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UNITED STATES vs EDUAVE, February 2, 1917

We believe that the accused is guilty of frustrated murder.

We are satisfied that there was an intent to kill in this case. A deadly weapon was used. The blow was directed
toward a vital part of the body. The aggressor stated his purpose to kill, thought he had killed, and threw the body
into the bushes. When he gave himself up he declared that he had killed the complainant.

There was alevosia to qualify the crime as murder if death had resulted. The accused rushed upon the girl
suddenly and struck her from behind, in part at least, with a sharp bolo, producing a frightful gash in the lumbar
region and slightly to the side eight and one-half inches long and two inches deep, severing all of the muscles and
tissues of that part.

The motive of the crime was that the accused was incensed at the girl for the reason that she had theretofore
charged him criminally before the local officials with having raped her and with being the cause of her pregnancy.
He was her mother's querido and was living with her as such at the time the crime here charged was committed.

That the accused is guilty of some crime is not denied. The only question is the precise crime of which he should
be convicted. It is contended, in the first place, that, if death has resulted, the crime would not have been murder
but homicide, and in the second place, that it is attempted and not frustrated homicide.

As to the first contention, we are of the opinion that the crime committed would have been murder if the girl had
been killed. It is qualified by the circumstance of alevosia, the accused making a sudden attack upon his victim
from the rear, or partly from the rear, and dealing her a terrible blow in the back and side with his bolo. Such an
attack necessitates the finding that it was made treacherously; and that being so the crime would have been
qualified as murder if death had resulted.

As to the second contention, we are of the opinion that the crime was frustrated and not attempted murder. Article
3 of the Penal Code defines a frustrated felony as follows:

A felony is frustrated when the offender performs all the acts of execution which should produce the felony
as a consequence, but which, nevertheless, do not produce it by reason of causes independent of the will of
the perpetrator.

An attempted felony is defined thus:

There is an attempt when the offender commences the commission of the felony directly by overt acts, and
does not perform all the acts of execution which constitute the felony by reason of some cause or accident
other than his own voluntarily desistance.

The crime cannot be attempted murder. This is clear from the fact that the defendant performed all of the acts
which should have resulted in the consummated crime and voluntarily desisted from further acts. A crime cannot
be held to be attempted unless the offender, after beginning the commission of the crime by overt acts, is
prevented, against his will, by some outside cause from performing all of the acts which should produce the crime.
In other words, to be an attempted crime the purpose of the offender must be thwarted by a foreign force or agency
which intervenes and compels him to stop prior to the moment when he has performed all of the acts which
should produce the crime as a consequence, which acts it is his intention to perform. If he has performed all of the
acts which should result in the consummation of the crime and voluntarily desists from proceeding further, it can
not be an attempt. The essential element which distinguishes attempted from frustrated felony is that, in the
latter, there is no intervention of a foreign or extraneous cause or agency between the beginning of the commission
of the crime and the moment when all of the acts have been performed which should result in the consummated
crime; while in the former there is such intervention and the offender does not arrive at the point of performing all
of the acts which should produce the crime. He is stopped short of that point by some cause apart from his
voluntary desistance.

To put it in another way, in case of an attempt the offender never passes the subjective phase of the offense. He is
interrupted and compelled to desist by the intervention of outside causes before the subjective phase is passed.

On the other hand, in case of frustrated crimes the subjective phase is completely passed. Subjectively the crime is
complete. Nothing interrupted the offender while he was passing through the subjective phase. The crime,
however, is not consummated by reason of the intervention of causes independent of the will of the offender. He
did all that was necessary to commit the crime. If the crime did not result as a consequence it was due to
something beyond his control.

The subjective phase is that portion of the acts constituting the crime included between the act which begins the
commission of the crime and the last act performed by the offender which, with the prior acts, should result in the
consummated crime. From that time forward the phase is objective. It may also be said to be that period occupied
by the acts of the offender over which he has control — that period between the point where he begins and the
points where he voluntarily desists. If between these two points the offender is stopped by reason of any cause
outside of his own voluntary desistance, the subjective phase has not been passed and it is an attempt. If he is not
so stopped but continues until he performs the last act, it is frustrated.
That the case before us is frustrated is clear.

The penalty should have been thirteen years of cadena temporal there being neither aggravating nor mitigating
circumstance. As so modified, the judgment is affirmed with costs. So ordered.

PEOPLE vs ORITA, April 3, 1990

The accused, Ceilito Orita alias Lito, was charged with the crime of rape in Criminal Case No. 83-031-B before the
Regional Trial Court, Branch II, Borongan, Eastern Samar. The information filed in the said case reads as follows
(p. 47, Rollo):

The undersigned Second Assistant Provincial Fiscal upon prior complaint under oath by the offended
party, accuses CEILITO ORITA alias LITO of the crime of Rape committed as follows:

That on March 20, 1983, at about 1:30 o'clock in the morning inside a boarding house at Victoria St.,
Poblacion, Borongan, Eastern Samar, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
above named accused with lewd designs and by the use of a Batangas knife he conveniently provided
himself for the purpose and with threats and intimidation, did, then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously lay with and succeeded in having sexual intercourse with Cristina S. Abayan against her will
and without her consent.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

Upon being arraigned, the accused entered the plea of not guilty to the offense charged. After the witnesses for the
People testified and the exhibits were formally offered and admitted, the prosecution rested its case. Thereafter, the
defense opted not to present any exculpatory evidence and instead filed a Motion to Dismiss. On August 5, 1985,
the trial court rendered its decision, the dispositive portion of which reads (pp. 59-60, Rollo):

WHEREFORE. the Court being morally certain of the guilt of accused CEILITO ORITA @ LITO, of the crime
of Frustrated Rape (Art. 335, RPC), beyond reasonable doubt, with the aggravating circumstances of
dwelling and nightime (sic) with no mitigating circumstance to offset the same, and considering the
provisions of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, imposes on accused an imprisonment of TEN (10) YEARS
and ONE (1) DAY, PRISION MAYOR, as minimum to TWELVE (12) YEARS PRISION MAYOR, maximum; to
indemnify CRISTINA S. ABAYAN, the amount of Four Thousand (P4,000.00) Pesos, without subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay costs.

SO ORDERED.

Not satisfied with the decision, the accused appealed to the Court of Appeals. On December 29, 1988, the Court of
Appeals rendered its decision, the dispositive portion of which reads (p. 102, Rollo):

WHEREFORE, the trial court's judgment is hereby MODIFIED, and the appellant found guilty of the crime
of rape, and consequently, sentenced to suffer imprisonment of reclusion perpetua and to indemnify the
victim in the amount of P30,000.00.

SO ORDERED.

On January 11, 1989, the Court of Appeals issued a resolution setting aside its December 29, 1988 decision and
forwarded the case to this Court, considering the provision of Section 9, paragraph 3 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129
in conjunction with Section 17, paragraph 3, subparagraph 1 of the Judiciary Act of 1948.

The antecedent facts as summarized in the People's brief are as follows (pp. 71-75, Rollo):

Complainant Cristina S. Abayan was a 19-year old freshman student at the St. Joseph's College at
Borongan, Eastern Samar. Appellant was a Philippine Constabulary (PC) soldier.

In the early morning of March 20, 1983, complainant arrived at her boarding house. Her classmates had
just brought her home from a party (p. 44, tsn, May 23, 1984). Shortly after her classmates had left, she
knocked at the door of her boarding house (p. 5, ibid). All of a sudden, somebody held her and poked a
knife to her neck. She then recognized appellant who was a frequent visitor of another boarder (pp. 8-9,
ibid).

She pleaded with him to release her, but he ordered her to go upstairs with him. Since the door which led
to the first floor was locked from the inside, appellant forced complainant to use the back door leading to
the second floor (p. 77, ibid). With his left arm wrapped around her neck and his right hand poking a
"balisong" to her neck, appellant dragged complainant up the stairs (p. 14, ibid). When they reached the
second floor, he commanded her to look for a room. With the Batangas knife still poked to her neck, they
entered complainant's room.
Upon entering the room, appellant pushed complainant who hit her head on the wall. With one hand
holding the knife, appellant undressed himself. He then ordered complainant to take off her clothes.
Scared, she took off her T-shirt. Then he pulled off her bra, pants and panty (p. 20, ibid).

He ordered her to lie down on the floor and then mounted her. He made her hold his penis and insert it in
her vagina. She followed his order as he continued to poke the knife to her. At said position, however,
appellant could not fully penetrate her. Only a portion of his penis entered her as she kept on moving (p.
23, ibid).

Appellant then lay down on his back and commanded her to mount him. In this position, only a small part
again of his penis was inserted into her vagina. At this stage, appellant had both his hands flat on the
floor. Complainant thought of escaping (p. 20, ibid).

She dashed out to the next room and locked herself in. Appellant pursued her and climbed the partition.
When she saw him inside the room, she ran to another room. Appellant again chased her. She fled to
another room and jumped out through a window (p. 27, ibid).

Still naked, she darted to the municipal building, which was about eighteen meters in front of the boarding
house, and knocked on the door. When there was no answer, she ran around the building and knocked on
the back door. When the policemen who were inside the building opened the door, they found complainant
naked sitting on the stairs crying. Pat. Donceras, the first policeman to see her, took off his jacket and
wrapped it around her. When they discovered what happened, Pat. Donceras and two other policemen
rushed to the boarding house. They heard a sound at the second floor and saw somebody running away.
Due to darkness, they failed to apprehend appellant.

Meanwhile, the policemen brought complainant to the Eastern Samar Provincial Hospital where she was
physically examined.

Dr. Ma. Luisa Abude, the resident physician who examined complainant, issued a Medical Certificate
(Exhibit "A") which states:

Physical Examination — Patient is fairly built, came in with loose clothing with no under-clothes;
appears in state of shock, per unambulatory.

PE Findings — Pertinent Findings only.

Neck- — Circumscribed hematoma at Ant. neck.

Breast — Well developed, conical in shape with prominent nipples; linear abrasions below (L)
breast.

Back — Multiple pinpoint marks.

Extremities — Abrasions at (R) and (L) knees.

Vulva — No visible abrasions or marks at the perineal area or over the vulva, errythematous (sic)
areas noted surrounding vaginal orifice, tender, hymen intact; no laceration fresh and old noted;
examining finger can barely enter and with difficulty; vaginal canal tight; no discharges noted.

As aforementioned, the trial court convicted the accused of frustrated rape.

In this appeal, the accused assigns the following errors:

1) The trial court erred in disregarding the substantial inconsistencies in the testimonies of the witnesses; and

2) The trial court erred in declaring that the crime of frustrated rape was committed by the accused.

The accused assails the testimonies of the victim and Pat. Donceras because they "show remarkable and vital
inconsistencies and its incredibility amounting to fabrication and therefore casted doubt to its candor, truth and
validity." (p. 33, Rollo)

A close scrutiny of the alleged inconsistencies revealed that they refer to trivial inconsistencies which are not
sufficient to blur or cast doubt on the witnesses' straightforward attestations. Far from being badges of fabrication,
the inconsistencies in their testimonies may in fact be justifiably considered as manifestations of truthfulness on
material points. These little deviations also confirm that the witnesses had not been rehearsed. The most candid
witnesses may make mistakes sometimes but such honest lapses do not necessarily impair their intrinsic
credibility (People v. Cabato, G.R. No. L-37400, April 15, 1988, 160 SCRA 98). Rather than discredit the
testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, discrepancies on minor details must be viewed as adding credence and
veracity to such spontaneous testimonies (Aportadera et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. L-41358, March
16, 1988, 158 SCRA 695). As a matter of fact, complete uniformity in details would be a strong indication of
untruthfulness and lack of spontaneity (People v. Bazar, G.R. No. L-41829, June 27, 1988, 162 SCRA 609).
However, one of the alleged inconsistencies deserves a little discussion which is, the testimony of the victim that
the accused asked her to hold and guide his penis in order to have carnal knowledge of her. According to the
accused, this is strange because "this is the only case where an aggressor's advances is being helped-out by the
victim in order that there will be a consumation of the act." (p. 34, Rollo). The allegation would have been
meritorious had the testimony of the victim ended there. The victim testified further that the accused was holding
a Batangas knife during the aggression. This is a material part of the victim's testimony which the accused
conveniently deleted.

We find no cogent reason to depart from the well-settled rule that the findings of fact of the trial court on the
credibility of witnesses should be accorded the highest respect because it has the advantage of observing the
demeanor of witnesses and can discern if a witness is telling the truth (People v. Samson, G.R. No. 55520, August
25, 1989). We quote with favor the trial court's finding regarding the testimony of the victim (p 56, Rollo):

As correctly pointed out in the memorandum for the People, there is not much to be desired as to the
sincerity of the offended party in her testimony before the court. Her answer to every question profounded
(sic), under all circumstances, are plain and straightforward. To the Court she was a picture of
supplication hungry and thirsty for the immediate vindication of the affront to her honor. It is inculcated
into the mind of the Court that the accused had wronged her; had traversed illegally her honor.

When a woman testifies that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape was
committed provided her testimony is clear and free from contradiction and her sincerity and candor, free from
suspicion (People v Alfonso, G.R. No. 72573, August 31, 1987, 153 SCRA 487; People v. Alcid, G.R. Nos. 66387-88,
February 28, 1985, 135 SCRA 280; People v. Soterol G.R. No. 53498, December 16, 1985, 140 SCRA 400). The
victim in this case did not only state that she was raped but she testified convincingly on how the rape was
committed. The victim's testimony from the time she knocked on the door of the municipal building up to the time
she was brought to the hospital was corroborated by Pat. Donceras. Interpreting the findings as indicated in the
medical certificate, Dr. Reinerio Zamora (who was presented in view of the unavailability of Dr. Abude) declared
that the abrasions in the left and right knees, linear abrasions below the left breast, multiple pinpoint marks,
circumscribed hematoma at the anterior neck, erythematous area surrounding the vaginal orifice and tender
vulva, are conclusive proof of struggle against force and violence exerted on the victim (pp. 52-53, Rollo). The trial
court even inspected the boarding house and was fully satisfied that the narration of the scene of the incident and
the conditions therein is true (p. 54, Rollo):

. . . The staircase leading to the first floor is in such a condition safe enough to carry the weight of both
accused and offended party without the slightest difficulty, even in the manner as narrated. The partitions
of every room were of strong materials, securedly nailed, and would not give way even by hastily scaling the
same.

A little insight into human nature is of utmost value in judging rape complaints (People v. Torio, et al., G.R. No. L-
48731, December 21, 1983, 126 SCRA 265). Thus, the trial court added (p. 55, Rollo):

. . . And the jump executed by the offended party from that balcony (opening) to the ground which was
correctly estimated to be less than eight (8) meters, will perhaps occasion no injury to a frightened
individual being pursued. Common experience will tell us that in occasion of conflagration especially
occuring (sic) in high buildings, many have been saved by jumping from some considerable heights without
being injured. How much more for a frightened barrio girl, like the offended party to whom honor appears
to be more valuable than her life or limbs? Besides, the exposure of her private parts when she sought
assistance from authorities, as corroborated, is enough indication that something not ordinary happened
to her unless she is mentally deranged. Sadly, nothing was adduced to show that she was out of her mind.

In a similar case (People v. Sambili G.R. No. L-44408, September 30, 1982, 117 SCRA 312), We ruled that:

What particularly imprints the badge of truth on her story is her having been rendered entirely naked by
appellant and that even in her nudity, she had to run away from the latter and managed to gain sanctuary
in a house owned by spouses hardly known to her. All these acts she would not have done nor would these
facts have occurred unless she was sexually assaulted in the manner she narrated.

The accused questions also the failure of the prosecution to present other witnesses to corroborate the allegations
in the complaint and the non-presentation of the medico-legal officer who actually examined the victim. Suffice it
to say that it is up to the prosecution to determine who should be presented as witnesses on the basis of its own
assessment of their necessity (Tugbang v. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 56679, June 29, 1989; People v.
Somera, G.R. No. 65589, May 31, 1989). As for the non-presentation of the medico-legal officer who actually
examined the victim, the trial court stated that it was by agreement of the parties that another physician testified
inasmuch as the medico-legal officer was no longer available. The accused did not bother to contradict this
statement.

Summing up, the arguments raised by the accused as regards the first assignment of error fall flat on its face.
Some were not even substantiated and do not, therefore, merit consideration. We are convinced that the accused is
guilty of rape. However, We believe the subject matter that really calls for discussion, is whether or not the
accused's conviction for frustrated rape is proper. The trial court was of the belief that there is no conclusive
evidence of penetration of the genital organ of the victim and thus convicted the accused of frustrated rape only.
The accused contends that there is no crime of frustrated rape. The Solicitor General shares the same view.

Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code defines and enumerates the elements of the crime of rape:

Art. 335. When and how rape is committed. — Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman
under any of the following circumstances:

1. By using force or intimidation;

2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious and

3. When the woman is under twelve years of age, even though neither of the circumstances mentioned in
the two next preceding paragraphs shall be present.

xxx xxx xxx

Carnal knowledge is defined as the act of a man in having sexual bodily connections with a woman (Black's Law
Dictionary. Fifth Edition, p. 193).

On the other hand, Article 6 of the same Code provides:

Art. 6. Consummated, frustrated, and attempted felonies. — Consummated felonies as well as those which
are frustrated and attempted, are punishable.

A felony is consummated when all the elements necessary for its execution and accomplishment are
present; and it is frustrated when the offender performs all the acts of execution which would produce the
felony as a consequence but which, nevertheless, do not produce it by reason of causes independent of the
will of the perpetrator.

There is an attempt when the offender commences the commission of a felony directly by overt acts, and
does not perform all the acts of execution which should produce the felony by reason of some cause or
accident other than his own spontaneous desistance.

Correlating these two provisions, there is no debate that the attempted and consummated stages apply to the
crime of rape.1âwphi1 Our concern now is whether or not the frustrated stage applies to the crime of rape.

The requisites of a frustrated felony are: (1) that the offender has performed all the acts of execution which would
produce the felony and (2) that the felony is not produced due to causes independent of the perpetrator's will. In
the leading case of United States v. Eduave, 36 Phil. 209, 212, Justice Moreland set a distinction between
attempted and frustrated felonies which is readily understood even by law students:

. . . A crime cannot be held to be attempted unless the offender, after beginning the commission of the
crime by overt acts, is prevented, against his will, by some outside cause from performing all of the acts
which should produce the crime. In other words, to be an attempted crime the purpose of the offender
must be thwarted by a foreign force or agency which intervenes and compels him to stop prior to the
moment when he has performed all of the acts which should produce the crime as a consequence, which
acts it is his intention to perform. If he has performed all of the acts which should result in the
consummation of the crime and voluntarily desists from proceeding further, it can not be an attempt. The
essential element which distinguishes attempted from frustrated felony is that, in the latter, there is no
intervention of a foreign or extraneous cause or agency between the beginning of the commission of the
crime and the moment when all of the acts have been performed which should result in the consummated
crime; while in the former there is such intervention and the offender does not arrive at the point of
performing all of the acts which should produce the crime. He is stopped short of that point by some cause
apart from his voluntary desistance.

Clearly, in the crime of rape, from the moment the offender has carnal knowledge of his victim he actually attains his
purpose and, from that moment also all the essential elements of the offense have been accomplished. Nothing more
is left to be done by the offender, because he has performed the last act necessary to produce the crime. Thus, the
felony is consummated. In a long line of cases (People v. Oscar, 48 Phil. 527; People v. Hernandez, 49 Phil. 980;
People v. Royeras, G.R. No. L-31886, April 29, 1974, 56 SCRA 666; People v. Amores, G.R. No. L-32996, August
21, 1974, 58 SCRA 505), We have set the uniform rule that for the consummation of rape, perfect penetration is
not essential. Any penetration of the female organ by the male organ is sufficient. Entry of the labia or lips of the
female organ, without rupture of the hymen or laceration of the vagina is sufficient to warrant conviction.
Necessarily, rape is attempted if there is no penetration of the female organ (People v. Tayaba, 62 Phil. 559 People v.
Rabadan et al., 53 Phil. 694; United States v. Garcia: 9 Phil. 434) because not all acts of execution was performed.
The offender merely commenced the commission of a felony directly by overt acts. Taking into account the nature,
elements and manner of execution of the crime of rape and jurisprudence on the matter, it is hardly conceivable
how the frustrated stage in rape can ever be committed.
Of course, We are aware of our earlier pronouncement in the case of People v. Eriña 50 Phil. 998 [1927] where We
found the offender guilty of frustrated rape there being no conclusive evidence of penetration of the genital organ of
the offended party. However, it appears that this is a "stray" decision inasmuch as it has not been reiterated in
Our subsequent decisions. Likewise, We are aware of Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by
Republic Act No. 2632 (dated September 12, 1960) and Republic Act No. 4111 (dated March 29, 1965) which
provides, in its penultimate paragraph, for the penalty of death when the rape is attempted or frustrated and a
homicide is committed by reason or on the occasion thereof. We are of the opinion that this particular provision on
frustrated rape is a dead provision. The Eriña case, supra, might have prompted the law-making body to include
the crime of frustrated rape in the amendments introduced by said laws.

In concluding that there is no conclusive evidence of penetration of the genital organ of the victim, the trial court
relied on the testimony of Dr. Zamora when he "categorically declared that the findings in the vulva does not give a
concrete disclosure of penetration. As a matter of fact, he tossed back to the offended party the answer as to
whether or not there actually was penetration." (p. 53, Rollo) Furthermore, the trial court stated (p. 57, Rollo):

. . . It cannot be insensible to the findings in the medical certificate (Exhibit "A") as interpreted by Dr.
Reinerio Zamora and the equivocal declaration of the latter of uncertainty whether there was penetration or
not. It is true, and the Court is not oblivious, that conviction for rape could proceed from the
uncorroborated testimony of the offended party and that a medical certificate is not necessary (People v.
Royeras People v. Orteza, 6 SCRA 109, 113). But the citations the people relied upon cannot be applicable
to the instant case. The testimony of the offended party is at variance with the medical certificate. As such,
a very disturbing doubt has surfaced in the mind of the court. It should be stressed that in cases of rape
where there is a positive testimony and a medical certificate, both should in all respect, compliment each
other, for otherwise to rely on the testimony alone in utter disregard of the manifest variance in the
medical certificate, would be productive of mischievous results.

The alleged variance between the testimony of the victim and the medical certificate does not exist. On the
contrary, it is stated in the medical certificate that the vulva was erythematous (which means marked by abnormal
redness of the skin due to capillary congestion, as in inflammation) and tender. It bears emphasis that Dr. Zamora
did not rule out penetration of the genital organ of the victim. He merely testified that there was uncertainty
whether or not there was penetration. Anent this testimony, the victim positively testified that there was
penetration, even if only partially (pp. 302, 304, t.s.n., May 23, 1984):

Q Was the penis inserted on your vagina?

A It entered but only a portion of it.

xxx xxx xxx

Q What do you mean when you said comply, or what act do you referred (sic) to, when you said comply?

A I inserted his penis into my vagina.

Q And was it inserted?

A Yes only a little.

The fact is that in a prosecution for rape, the accused may be convicted even on the sole basis of the victim's
testimony if credible (People v. Tabago, G.R. No. 69778, November 8, 1988, 167 SCRA 65; People v. Aragona, G.R.
No. L-43752, September 19, 1985, 138 SCRA 569; People v. Taduyo, G.R. Nos. L-37928-29, September 29, 1987,
154 SCRA 349). Moreover, Dr. Zamora's testimony is merely corroborative and is not an indispensable element in
the prosecution of this case (People v. Alfonso, supra).

Although the second assignment of error is meritorious, it will not tilt the scale in favor of the accused because
after a thorough review of the records, We find the evidence sufficient to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of consummated rape.

Article 335, paragraph 3, of the Revised Penal Code provides that whenever the crime of rape is committed with
the use of a deadly weapon, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua to death. The trial court appreciated the
aggravating circumstances of dwelling and nighttime. Thus, the proper imposable penalty is death. In view,
however, of Article 111, Section 19(1) of the 1987 Constitution and Our ruling in People v. Millora, et al., G.R. Nos.
L-38968-70, February 9, 1989, that the cited Constitutional provision did not declare the abolition of the death
penalty but merely prohibits the imposition of the death penalty, the Court has since February 2, 1987 not
imposed the death penalty whenever it was called for under the Revised Penal Code but instead reduced the same
to reclusion perpetua (People v. Solis, et al., G.R. Nos. 78732-33, February 14, 1990). Reclusion perpetua, being a
single indivisible penalty under Article 335, paragraph 3, is imposed regardless of any mitigating or aggravating
circumstances (in relation to Article 63, paragraph 1, Revised Penal Code; see People v. Arizala, G.R. No. 59713,
March 15, 1982, 112 SCRA 615; People v. Manzano, G.R. No. L38449, November 25, 1982, 118 SCRA 705; People
v. Ramirez, G.R. No. 70744, May 31, 1985, 136 SCRA 702).
ACCORDINGLY, the decision of the Regional Trial Court is hereby MODIFIED. The accused Ceilito Orita is hereby
found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and sentenced to reclusion perpetua as well as to
indemnify the victim in the amount of P30,000.00.

SO ORDERED.

PEOPLE vs CAMPUHAN, March 30, 2000

On 3 April 1990 this Court in People v. Orita 1 finally did away with frustrated rape 2 and allowed only attempted
rape and consummated rape to remain in our statute books. The instant case lurks at the threshold of another
emasculation of the stages of execution of rape by considering almost every attempt at sexual violation of a woman
as consummated rape, that is, if the contrary view were to be adopted. The danger there is that that concept may
send the wrong signal to every roaming lothario, whenever the opportunity bares itself, to better intrude with
climactic gusto, sans any restraint, since after all any attempted fornication would be considered consummated
rape and punished as such. A mere strafing of the citadel of passion would then be considered a deadly fait
accompli, which is absurd.

In Orita we held that rape was consummated from the moment the offender had carnal knowledge of the victim
since by it he attained his objective. All the elements of the offense were already present and nothing more was left
for the offender to do, having performed all the acts necessary to produce the crime and accomplish it. We ruled
then that perfect penetration was not essential; any penetration of the female organ by the male organ, however
slight, was sufficient. The Court further held that entry of the labia or lips of the female organ, even without
rupture of the hymen or laceration of the vagina, was sufficient to warrant conviction for consummated rape. We
distinguished consummated rape from attempted rape where there was no penetration of the female organ
because not all acts of execution were performed as the offender merely commenced the commission of a felony
directly by overt acts. 3 The inference that may be derived therefrom is that complete or full penetration of the
vagina is not required for rape to be consummated. Any penetration, in whatever degree, is enough to raise the
crime to its consummated stage.

But the Court in Orita clarified the concept of penetration in rape by requiring entry into the labia or lips of the
female organ, even if there be no rupture of the hymen or laceration of the vagina, to warrant a conviction for
consummated rape. While the entry of the penis into the lips of the female organ was considered synonymous with
mere touching of the external genitalia, e.g., labia majora, labia minora, etc.,4 the crucial doctrinal bottom line is
that touching must be inextricably viewed in light of, in relation to, or as an essential part of, the process of penile
penetration, and not just mere touching in the ordinary sense. In other words, the touching must be tacked to the
penetration itself. The importance of the requirement of penetration, however slight, cannot be gainsaid because
where entry into the labia or the lips of the female genitalia has not been established, the crime committed
amounts merely to attempted rape.

Verily, this should be the indicium of the Court in determining whether rape has been committed either in its
attempted or in its consummated stage; otherwise, no substantial distinction would exist between the two, despite
the fact that penalty-wise, this distinction, threadbare as it may seem, irrevocably spells the difference between life
and death for the accused — a reclusive life that is not even perpetua but only temporal on one hand, and the
ultimate extermination of life on the other. And, arguing on another level, if the case at bar cannot be deemed
attempted but consummated rape, what then would constitute attempted rape? Must our field of choice be thus
limited only to consummated rape and acts of lasciviousness since attempted rape would no longer be possible in
light of the view of those who disagree with this ponencia?

On 27 May 1997 Primo Campuhan y Bello was found guilty of statutory rape and sentenced by the court a quo to
the extreme penalty of death, 5 hence this case before us on automatic review under Art. 335 of the Revised Penal
Code as amended by RA 7659. 6

As may be culled from the evidence on record, on 25 April 1996, at around 4 o'clock in the afternoon, Ma. Corazon
P. Pamintuan, mother of four (4)-year old Crysthel Pamintuan, went down from the second floor of their house to
prepare Milo chocolate drinks for her two (2) children. At the ground floor she met Primo Campuhan who was then
busy filling small plastic bags with water to be frozen into ice in the freezer located at the second floor. Primo was a
helper of Conrado Plata Jr., brother of Corazon. As Corazon was busy preparing the drinks, she heard one of her
daughters cry, "Ayo'ko, ayo'ko!" 7 prompting Corazon to rush upstairs. Thereupon, she saw Primo Campuhan
inside her children's room kneeling before Crysthel whose pajamas or "jogging pants" and panty were already
removed, while his short pants were down to his knees.

According to Corazon, Primo was forcing his penis into Crysthel's vagina. Horrified, she cursed the accused, "P - t -
ng ina mo, anak ko iyan!" and boxed him several times. He evaded her blows and pulled up his pants. He pushed
Corazon aside when she tried to block his path. Corazon then ran out and shouted for help thus prompting her
brother, a cousin and an uncle who were living within their compound, to chase the accused. 8 Seconds later,
Primo was apprehended by those who answered Corazon's call for help. They held the accused at the back of their
compound until they were advised by their neighbors to call the barangay officials instead of detaining him for his
misdeed. Physical examination of the victim yielded negative results. No evident sign of extra-genital physical
injury was noted by the medico-legal officer on Crysthel's body as her hymen was intact and its orifice was only
0.5 cm. in diameter.
Primo Campuhan had only himself for a witness in his defense. He maintained his innocence and assailed the
charge as a mere scheme of Crysthel's mother who allegedly harbored ill will against him for his refusal to run an
errand for her. 9 He asserted that in truth Crysthel was in a playing mood and wanted to ride on his back when
she suddenly pulled him down causing both of them to fall down on the floor. It was in this fallen position that
Corazon chanced upon them and became hysterical. Corazon slapped him and accused him of raping her child. He
got mad but restrained himself from hitting back when he realized she was a woman. Corazon called for help from
her brothers to stop him as he ran down from the second floor.

Vicente, Corazon's brother, timely responded to her call for help and accosted Primo. Vicente punched him and
threatened to kill him. Upon hearing the threat, Primo immediately ran towards the house of Conrado Plata but
Vicente followed him there. Primo pleaded for a chance to explain as he reasoned out that the accusation was not
true. But Vicente kicked him instead. When Primo saw Vicente holding a piece of lead pipe, Primo raised his hands
and turned his back to avoid the blow. At this moment, the relatives and neighbors of Vicente prevailed upon him
to take Primo to the barangay hall instead, and not to maul or possibly kill him.

Although Primo Campuhan insisted on his innocence, the trial court on 27 May 1997 found him guilty of statutory
rape, sentenced him to the extreme penalty of death, and ordered him to pay his victim P50,000.00 for moral
damages, P25,000.00 for exemplary damages, and the costs.

The accused Primo Campuhan seriously assails the credibility of Ma. Corazon Pamintuan. He argues that her
narration should not be given any weight or credence since it was punctured with implausible statements and
improbabilities so inconsistent with human nature and experience. He claims that it was truly inconceivable for
him to commit the rape considering that Crysthel's younger sister was also in the room playing while Corazon was
just downstairs preparing Milo drinks for her daughters. Their presence alone as possible eyewitnesses and the
fact that the episode happened within the family compound where a call for assistance could easily be heard and
responded to, would have been enough to deter him from committing the crime. Besides, the door of the room was
wide open for anybody to see what could be taking place inside. Primo insists that it was almost inconceivable that
Corazon could give such a vivid description of the alleged sexual contact when from where she stood she could not
have possibly seen the alleged touching of the sexual organs of the accused and his victim. He asserts that the
absence of any external signs of physical injuries or of penetration of Crysthel's private parts more than bolsters
his innocence.

In convicting the accused, the trial court relied quite heavily on the testimony of Corazon that she saw Primo with
his short pants down to his knees kneeling before Crysthel whose pajamas and panty were supposedly "already
removed" and that Primo was "forcing his penis into Crysthel's vagina." The gravamen of the offense of statutory
rape is carnal knowledge of a woman below twelve (12), as provided in Art. 335, par. (3), of the Revised Penal Code.
Crysthel was only four (4) years old when sexually molested, thus raising the penalty, from reclusion perpetua to
death, to the single indivisible penalty of death under RA 7659, Sec. 11, the offended party being below seven (7)
years old. We have said often enough that in concluding that carnal knowledge took place, full penetration of the
vaginal orifice is not an essential ingredient, nor is the rupture of the hymen necessary; the mere touching of the
external genitalia by the penis capable of consummating the sexual act is sufficient to constitute carnal
knowledge. 10 But the act of touching should be understood here as inherently part of the entry of the penis into
the labias of the female organ and not mere touching alone of the mons pubis or the pudendum.

In People v. De la Peña 11 we clarified that the decisions finding a case for rape even if the attacker's penis merely
touched the external portions of the female genitalia were made in the context of the presence or existence of an
erect penis capable of full penetration. Where the accused failed to achieve an erection, had a limp or flaccid penis,
or an oversized penis which could not fit into the victim's vagina, the Court nonetheless held that rape was
consummated on the basis of the victim's testimony that the accused repeatedly tried, but in vain, to insert his
penis into her vagina and in all likelihood reached the labia of her pudendum as the victim felt his organ on the lips
of her vulva, 12 or that the penis of the accused touched the middle part of her vagina. 13 Thus, touching when
applied to rape cases does not simply mean mere epidermal contact, stroking or grazing of organs, a slight brush
or a scrape of the penis on the external layer of the victim's vagina, or the mons pubis, as in this case. There must
be sufficient and convincing proof that the penis indeed touched the labias or slid into the female organ, and not
merely stroked the external surface thereof, for an accused to be convicted of consummated rape. 14 As the labias,
which are required to be "touched" by the penis, are by their natural situs or location beneath the mons pubis or
the vaginal surface, to touch them with the penis is to attain some degree of penetration beneath the surface,
hence, the conclusion that touching the labia majora or the labia minora of the pudendum constitutes
consummated rape.

The pudendum or vulva is the collective term for the female genital organs that are visible in the perineal area,
e.g., mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora, the hymen, the clitoris, the vaginal orifice, etc. The mons pubis is the
rounded eminence that becomes hairy after puberty, and is instantly visible within the surface. The next layer is
the labia majora or the outer lips of the female organ composed of the outer convex surface and the inner surface.
The skin of the outer convex surface is covered with hair follicles and is pigmented, while the inner surface is a
thin skin which does not have any hair but has many sebaceous glands. Directly beneath the labia majora is the
labia minora. 15 Jurisprudence dictates that the labia majora must be entered for rape to be consummated, 16 and
not merely for the penis to stroke the surface of the female organ. Thus, a grazing of the surface of the female
organ or touching the mons pubis of the pudendum is not sufficient to constitute consummated rape. Absent any
showing of the slightest penetration of the female organ, i.e., touching of either labia of the pudendum by the
penis, there can be no consummated rape; at most, it can only be attempted rape, if not acts of lasciviousness.
Judicial depiction of consummated rape has not been confined to the oft-quoted "touching of the female organ," 17
but has also progressed into being described as "the introduction of the male organ into the labia of the
pudendum," 18 or "the bombardment of the drawbridge." 19 But, to our mild, the case at bar merely constitutes a
"shelling of the castle of orgasmic potency," or as earlier stated, a "strafing of the citadel of passion.

A review of the records clearly discloses that the prosecution utterly failed to discharge its onus of proving that
Primo's penis was able to penetrate Crysthel's vagina however slight. Even if we grant arguendo that Corazon
witnessed Primo in the act of sexually molesting her daughter, we seriously doubt the veracity of her claim that
she saw the inter-genital contact between Primo and Crysthel. When asked what she saw upon entering her
children's room Corazon plunged into saying that she saw Primo poking his penis on the vagina of Crysthel
without explaining her relative position to them as to enable her to see clearly and sufficiently, in automotive lingo,
the contact point. It should be recalled that when Corazon chanced upon Primo and Crysthel, the former was
allegedly in a kneeling position, which Corazon described thus:

Q: How was Primo holding your daughter?

A: (The witness is demonstrating in such a way that the chest of the accused is pinning down the victim,
while his right hand is holding his penis and his left hand is spreading the legs of the victim).

It can reasonably be drawn from the foregoing narration that Primo's kneeling position rendered an unbridled
observation impossible. Not even a vantage point from the side of the accused and the victim would have provided
Corazon an unobstructed view of Primo's penis supposedly reaching Crysthel's external genitalia, i.e., labia
majora, labia minora, hymen, clitoris, etc., since the legs and arms of Primo would have hidden his movements
from Corazon's sight, not to discount the fact that Primo's right hand was allegedly holding his penis thereby
blocking it from Corazon's view. It is the burden of the prosecution to establish how Corazon could have seen the
sexual contact and to shove her account into the permissive sphere of credibility. It is not enough that she claims
that she saw what was done to her daughter. It is required that her claim be properly demonstrated to inspire
belief. The prosecution failed in this respect, thus we cannot conclude without any taint of serious doubt that
inter-genital contact was at all achieved. To hold otherwise would be to resolve the doubt in favor of the
prosecution but to run roughshod over the constitutional right of the accused to be presumed innocent.

Corazon insists that Primo did not restrain himself from pursuing his wicked intention despite her timely
appearance, thus giving her the opportunity to fully witness his beastly act.

We are not persuaded. It is inconsistent with man's instinct of self-preservation to remain where he is and persist
in satisfying his lust even when he knows fully well that his dastardly acts have already been discovered or
witnessed by no less than the mother of his victim. For, the normal behavior or reaction of Primo upon learning of
Corazon's presence would have been to pull his pants up to avoid being caught literally with his pants down. The
interval, although relatively short, provided more than enough opportunity for Primo not only to desist from but
even to conceal his evil design.

What appears to be the basis of the conviction of the accused was Crysthel's answer to the question of the court —

Q: Did the penis of Primo touch your organ?

A: Yes, sir.

But when asked further whether his penis penetrated her organ, she readily said, "No." Thus —

Q: But did his penis penetrate your organ?

A: No, sir. 20

This testimony alone should dissipate the mist of confusion that enshrouds the question of whether rape in this
case was consummated. It has foreclosed the possibility of Primo's penis penetrating her vagina, however slight.
Crysthel made a categorical statement denying penetration, 27 obviously induced by a question propounded to her
who could not have been aware of the finer distinctions between touching and penetration. Consequently, it is
improper and unfair to attach to this reply of a four (4)-year old child, whose vocabulary is yet as underdeveloped
as her sex and whose language is bereft of worldly sophistication, an adult interpretation that because the penis of
the accused touched her organ there was sexual entry. Nor can it be deduced that in trying to penetrate the
victim's organ the penis of the accused touched the middle portion of her vagina and entered the labia of her
pudendum as the prosecution failed to establish sufficiently that Primo made efforts to penetrate Crysthel. 22
Corazon did not say, nay, not even hint that Primo's penis was erect or that he responded with an erection. 23 On
the contrary, Corazon even narrated that Primo had to hold his penis with his right hand, thus showing that he
had yet to attain an erection to be able to penetrate his victim.

Antithetically, the possibility of Primo's penis having breached Crysthel's vagina is belied by the child's own
assertion that she resisted Primo's advances by putting her legs close together; 24 consequently, she did not feel
any intense pain but just felt "not happy" about what Primo did to her. 25 Thus, she only shouted "Ayo'ko, ayo'ko!"
not "Aray ko, aray ko!" In cases where penetration was not fully established, the Court had anchored its
conclusion that rape nevertheless was consummated on the victim's testimony that she felt pain, or the medico-
legal finding of discoloration in the inner lips of the vagina, or the labia minora was already gaping with redness, or
the hymenal tags were no longer visible. 26 None was shown in this case. Although a child's testimony must be
received with due consideration on account of her tender age, the Court endeavors at the same time to harness
only what in her story appears to be true, acutely aware of the equally guaranteed rights of the accused. Thus, we
have to conclude that even on the basis of the testimony of Crysthel alone the accused cannot be held liable for
consummated rape; worse, be sentenced to death.1âwphi1

Lastly, it is pertinent to mention the medico legal officer's finding in this case that there were no external signs of
physical injuries on complaining witness' body to conclude from a medical perspective that penetration had taken
place. As Dr. Aurea P. Villena explained, although the absence of complete penetration of the hymen does not
negate the possibility of contact, she clarified that there was no medical basis to hold that there was sexual
contact between the accused and the victim. 27

In cases of rape where there is a positive testimony and a medical certificate, both should in all respects
complement each other; otherwise, to rely on the testimonial evidence alone, in utter disregard of the manifest
variance in the medical certificate, would be productive of unwarranted or even mischievous results. It is
necessary to carefully ascertain whether the penis of the accused in reality entered the labial threshold of the
female organ to accurately conclude that rape was consummated. Failing in this, the thin line that separates
attempted rape from consummated rape will significantly disappear.

Under Art. 6, in relation to Art. 335, of the Revised Penal Code, rape is attempted when the offender commences
the commission of rape directly by overt acts, and does not perform all the acts of execution which should produce
the crime of rape by reason of some cause or accident other than his own spontaneous desistance. All the
elements of attempted rape — and only of attempted rape — are present in the instant case, hence, the accused
should be punished only for it.

The penalty for attempted rape is two (2) degrees lower than the imposable penalty of death for the offense
charged, which is statutory rape of a minor below seven (7) years. Two (2) degrees lower is reclusion temporal, the
range of which is twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law,
and in the absence of any mitigating or aggravating circumstance, the maximum of the penalty to be imposed
upon the accused shall be taken from the medium period of reclusion temporal, the range of which is fourteen (14)
years, eight (8) months and (1) day to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months, while the minimum shall be taken
from the penalty next lower in degree, which is prision mayor, the range of which is from six (6) years and one (1)
day to twelve (12) years, in any of its periods.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the court a quo finding accused PRIMO "SONNY" CAMPUHAN Y BELLO guilty of
statutory rape and sentencing him to death and to pay damages is MODIFIED. He is instead found guilty of
ATTEMPTED RAPE and sentenced to an indeterminate prison term of eight (8) years four (4) months and ten (10)
days of prision mayor medium as minimum, to fourteen (14) years ten (10) months and twenty (20) days of
reclusion temporal medium as maximum. Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.1âwphi1.nêt

PEOPLE vs LAMAHANG, August 3, 1935

The defendant Aurelio Lamahang is before this court on appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of
Iloilo, finding him guilty of attempted robbery and sentencing him to suffer two years and four months of prision
correccional and to an additional penalty of ten years and one day of prision mayor for being an habitual
delinquent, with the accessory penalties of the law, and to pay the costs of the proceeding.

At early dawn on March 2, 1935, policeman Jose Tomambing, who was patrolling his beat on Delgado and C.R.
Fuentes streets of the City of Iloilo, caught the accused in the act of making an opening with an iron bar on the
wall of a store of cheap goods located on the last named street. At that time the owner of the store, Tan Yu, was
sleeping inside with another Chinaman. The accused had only succeeded in breaking one board and in
unfastening another from the wall, when the policeman showed up, who instantly arrested him and placed him
under custody.

The fact above stated was considered and declared unanimously by the provincial fiscal of Iloilo, the trial judge
and the Solicitor-General, as constituting attempted robbery, which we think is erroneous.

It is our opinion that the attempt to commit an offense which the Penal Code punishes is that which has a logical
relation to a particular, concrete offense; that, which is the beginning of the execution of the offense by overt acts
of the perpetrator, leading directly to its realization and consummation. The attempt to commit an indeterminate
offense, inasmuch as its nature in relation to its objective is ambiguous, is not a juridical fact from the standpoint
of the Penal Code. There is no doubt that in the case at bar it was the intention of the accused to enter Tan Yu's
store by means of violence, passing through the opening which he had started to make on the wall, in order to
commit an offense which, due to the timely arrival of policeman Tomambing, did not develop beyond the first steps
of its execution. But it is not sufficient, for the purpose of imposing penal sanction, that an act objectively
performed constitute a mere beginning of execution; it is necessary to establish its unavoidable connection, like
the logical and natural relation of the cause and its effect, with the deed which, upon its consummation, will
develop into one of the offenses defined and punished by the Code; it is necessary to prove that said beginning of
execution, if carried to its complete termination following its natural course, without being frustrated by external
obstacles nor by the voluntary desistance of the perpetrator, will logically and necessarily ripen into a concrete
offense. Thus, in case of robbery, in order that the simple act of entering by means of force or violence another
person's dwelling may be considered an attempt to commit this offense, it must be shown that the offender clearly
intended to take possession, for the purpose of gain, of some personal property belonging to another. In the instant
case, there is nothing in the record from which such purpose of the accused may reasonably be inferred. From the
fact established and stated in the decision, that the accused on the day in question was making an opening by
means of an iron bar on the wall of Tan Yu's store, it may only be inferred as a logical conclusion that his evident
intention was to enter by means of force said store against the will of its owner. That his final objective, once he
succeeded in entering the store, was to rob, to cause physical injury to the inmates, or to commit any other
offense, there is nothing in the record to justify a concrete finding.1avvphil.ñet

It must be borne in mind (I Groizard, p. 99) that in offenses not consummated, as the material damage is
wanting, the nature of the action intended (accion fin) cannot exactly be ascertained, but the same must be
inferred from the nature of the acts executed (accion medio). Hence, the necessity that these acts be such
that by their very nature, by the facts to which they are related, by the circumstances of the persons
performing the same, and by the things connected therewith, they must show without any doubt, that they
are aimed at the consummation of a crime. Acts susceptible of double interpretation , that is, in favor as
well as against the culprit, and which show an innocent as well as a punishable act, must not and can not
furnish grounds by themselves for attempted nor frustrated crimes. The relation existing between the facts
submitted for appreciation and the offense which said facts are supposed to produce must be direct; the
intention must be ascertained from the facts and therefore it is necessary, in order to avoid regrettable
instances of injustice, that the mind be able to directly infer from them the intention of the perpetrator to
cause a particular injury. This must have been the intention of the legislator in requiring that in order for
an attempt to exist, the offender must commence the commission of the felony directly by overt acts, that
is to say, that the acts performed must be such that, without the intent to commit an offense, they would
be meaningless.

Viada (Vol. I, p. 47) holds the same opinion when he says that "the overt acts leading to the commission of the
offense, are not punished except when they are aimed directly to its execution, and therefore they must have an
immediate and necessary relation to the offense."

Considering — says the Supreme Court of Spain in its decision of March 21, 1892 — that in order to
declare that such and such overt acts constitute an attempted offense it is necessary that their objective be
known and established, or that said acts be of such nature that they themselves should obviously disclose
the criminal objective necessarily intended, said objective and finality to serve as ground for the
designation of the offense: . . . .

In view of the foregoing, we are of the opinion, and so hold that the fact under consideration does not constitute
attempted robbery but attempted trespass to dwelling (People vs. Tayag and Morales, 59 Phil., 606, and decisions
of the Supreme Court of Spain therein cited). Under article 280 of the Revised Penal Code, this offense is
committed when a private person shall enter the dwelling of another against the latter's will. The accused may be
convicted and sentenced for an attempt to commit this offense in accordance with the evidence and the following
allegation contained in the information: "... the accused armed with an iron bar forced the wall of said store by
breaking a board and unfastening another for the purpose of entering said store ... and that the accused did not
succeed in entering the store due to the presence of the policeman on beat Jose Tomambing, who upon hearing
the noise produced by the breaking of the wall, promptly approached the accused ... ." Under the circumstances of
this case the prohibition of the owner or inmate is presumed. (U.S. vs. Ostrea, 2 Phil., 93; U.S. vs. Silvano, 31
Phil., 509' U.S. vs. Ticson, 25 Phil., 67; U.S. vs. Mesina, 21 Phil., 615; U.S. vs. Villanueva, 18 Phil., 215; U.S. vs.
Panes, 25 Phil., 292.) Against the accused must be taken into consideration the aggravating circumstances of
nighttime and former convictions, — inasmuch as the record shows that several final judgments for robbery and
theft have been rendered against him — and in his favor, the mitigating circumstance of lack of instruction. The
breaking of the wall should not be taken into consideration as an aggravating circumstance inasmuch as this is
the very fact which in this case constitutes the offense of attempted trespass to dwelling.

The penalty provided by the Revised Penal Code for the consummated offense of trespass to dwelling, if committed
with force, is prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine not exceeding P1,000 (art. 280,
par. 2); therefore the penalty corresponding to attempted trespass to dwelling is to degrees lower (art. 51), or,
arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods. Because of the presence of two aggravating circumstances and
one mitigating circumstance the penalty must be imposed in its maximum period. Pursuant to article 29 of the
same Code, the accused is not entitled to credit for one-half of his preventive imprisonment.

Wherefore, the sentence appealed from is revoked and the accused is hereby held guilty of attempted trespass to
dwelling, committed by means of force, with the aforesaid aggravating and mitigating circumstances and sentenced
to three months and one day of arresto mayor, with the accessory penalties thereof and to pay the costs.

PEOPLE vs SALVILLA, April 26, 1990

Accused Bienvenido Salvilla alone appeals from the Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 28, Iloilo City, *
dated 29 August 1988, in Criminal Case No. 20092, finding him and his co-accused Reynaldo, Ronaldo and
Simplicio, all surnamed Canasares, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of "Robbery with Serious Physical
Injuries and Serious Illegal Detention" and sentencing them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
The Information filed against them reads:

The undersigned City Fiscal accuses BIENVENIDO SALVILLA, REYNALDO CANASARES, RONALDO
CANASARES, and SIMPLICIO CANASARES, whose maternal surnames, dated and places of birth cannot
be ascertained of the crime of ROBBERY WITH SERIOUS PHYSICAL INJURIES AND SERIOUS ILLEGAL
DETENTION (Art, 294, paragraph 3, in conjunction with Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code), committed
as follows:

That on or about the 12th day of April, 1986, in the City of Iloilo, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of
this Court, said accused, conspiring and confederating among themselves, working together and helping
one another, armed with guns and handgrenade and with the use of violence or intimidation employed on
the person of Severino Choco, Mary Choco, Mimie Choco and Rodita Hablero did then and there wilfully,
unlawfully and criminally take and carry away, with intent of gain, cash in the amount of P20,000.00, two
(2) Men's wrist watches, one (1) Lady's Seiko quartz wrist watch and one (1) Lady's Citizen wrist watch and
assorted jewelries, all valued at P50,000.00; that on the occasion and by reason of said robbery, Mary
Choco suffered serious physical injuries under paragraph 2 of Article 263, Bienvenido Salvilla likewise
suffered serious physical injuries and Reynaldo Canasares also suffered physical injuries; that the said
accused also illegally detained, at the compound of the New Iloilo Lumber Company, Iznart Street, Iloilo
City, Severino Choco, owner/proprietor of said Lumber Company, Mary Choco, Mimie Choco, who is a
minor, being 15 years of age, and Rodita Hablero, who is a salesgirl at said Company; that likewise on the
occasion of the robbery, the accused also asked and were given a ransom money of P50,000.00; that the
said crime was attended by aggravating circumstances of band, and illegal possession of firearms and
explosives; that the amount of P20,000.00, the ransom money of P50,000.00, two (2) Men's wrist watches,
two (2) lady's wrist watches, one (1) .38 caliber revolver and one (1) live grenade were recovered from the
accused; to the damage and prejudice of the New Iloilo Lumber Company in the amount of P120,000.00.

The evidence for the prosecution may be re-stated as follows:

On 12 April 1986, a robbery was staged by the four accused at the New Iloilo Lumber Yard at about noon time.
The plan was hatched about two days before. The accused were armed with homemade guns and a hand grenade.
When they entered the establishment, they met Rodita Hablero an employee thereat who was on her way out for
her meal break and announced to her that it was a hold-up. She was made to go back to the office and there
Appellant Salvilla pointed his gun at the owner, Severino Choco, and his two daughters, Mary and Mimie the latter
being a minor 15 years of age, and told the former that all they needed was money. Hearing this, Severino told his
daughter, Mary, to get a paper bag wherein he placed P20,000.00 cash (P5,000.00, according to the defense) and
handed it to Appellant. Thereafter, Severino pleaded with the four accused to leave the premises as they already
had the money but they paid no heed. Instead, accused Simplicio Canasares took the wallet and wristwatch of
Severino after which the latter, his two daughters, and Rodita, were herded to the office and kept there as
hostages.

At about 2:00 o'clock of the same day, the hostages were allowed to eat. The four accused also took turns eating
while the others stood guard. Then, Appellant told Severino to produce P100,000.00 so he and the other hostages
could be released. Severino answered that he could not do so because it was a Saturday and the banks were
closed.

In the meantime, police and military authorities had surrounded the premises of the lumber yard. Major
Melquiades B. Sequio Station Commander of the INP of Iloilo City, negotiated with the accused using a loud
speaker and appealed to them to surrender with the assurance that no harm would befall them as he would
accompany them personally to the police station. The accused refused to surrender or to release the hostages.

Thereafter, OIC Mayor, Rosa Caram, of Iloilo City arrived and joined the negotiations. In her dialogue with the
accused, which lasted for about four hours, Appellant demanded P100,000.00, a coaster, and some raincoats. She
offered them P50,000.00 instead, explaining the difficulty of raising more as it was a Saturday. Later, the accused
agreed to receive the same and to release Rodita to be accompanied by Mary Choco in going out of the office. When
they were out of the door, one of the accused whose face was covered by a handkerchief, gave a key to Mayor
Caram. With this, Mayor Caram unlocked the padlocked door and handed to Rodita the P50,000.00, which the
latter, in turn, gave to one of the accused. Rodita was later set free but Mary was herded back to the office.

Mayor Caram, Major Sequio and even volunteer radio newscasters continued to appeal to the accused to surrender
peacefully but they refused.1âwphi1 UItimatums were given but the accused did not budge. Finally, the police and
military authorities decided to launch an offensive and assault the place. This resulted in injuries to the girls,
Mimie and Mary Choco as well as to the accused Ronaldo and Reynaldo Canasares. Mary suffered a "macerated
right lower extremity just below the knee" so that her right leg had to be amputated. The medical certificate
described her condition as "in a state of hemorrhagic shock when she was brought in to the hospital and had to
undergo several major operations during the course of her confinement from April 13, 1986 to May 30, 1986."

For his part, Appellant Salvilla confirmed that at about noon time of 12 April 1986 he and his co-accused entered
the lumber yard and demanded money from the owner Severino Choco He demanded P100,000.00 but was given
only P5,000.00, which he placed on the counter of the office of the lumber yard. He admitted that he and his co-
accused kept Severino, his daughters, and Rodita inside the office. He maintained, however, that he stopped his
co-accused from getting the wallet and wristwatch of Severino and, like the P5,000.00 were all left on the counter,
and were never touched by them. He claimed further that they had never fired on the military because they
intended to surrender. Appellant's version also was that during the gunfire, Severino's daughter stood up and went
outside; he wanted to stop her but he himself was hit by a bullet and could not prevent her. Appellant also
admitted the appeals directed to them to surrender but that they gave themselves up only much later.

After trial, the Court a quo meted out a judgment of conviction and sentenced each of the accused "to suffer the
penalty of reclusion perpetua, with the accessory penalties provided by law and to pay the costs."

Appellant Salvilla's present appeal is predicated on the following Assignments of Error:

1. The lower court erred in holding that the crime charged was consummated and in not holding that the
same was merely attempted.

2. The lower court erred in not appreciating the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender."

Upon the facts and the evidence, we affirm.

The defense contends that "The complete crime of larceny (theft/robbery) as distinguished from an attempt
requires asportation or carrying away, in addition to the taking, In other words, the crime of robbery/theft has
three consecutive stages: 1) the giving 2) the taking and 3) the carrying away or asportation And without
asportation the crime committed is only attempted" (Memorandum for Appellant Salvilla, Records, p. 317).

There is no question that in robbery, it is required that there be a taking of personal property belonging to another.
This is known as the element of asportation the essence of which is the taking of a thing out of the possession of
the owner without his privity and consent and without the animus revertendi (Aquino, Revised Penal Code, p. 97,
citing 5 C.J. 607). In fact, if there is no actual taking, there can be no robbery. Unlawful taking of personal
property of another is an essential part of the crime of robbery.

Appellant insists that while the "giving" has been proven, the "taking" has not. And this is because neither he nor
his three co-accused touched the P5,000.00 given by Severino nor the latter's wallet or watch during the entire
incident; proof of which is that none of those items were recovered from their persons.

Those factual allegations are contradicted by the evidence. Rodita, the lumberyard employee, testified that upon
demand by Appellant, Severino put P20,000.00 inside a paper bag and subsequently handed it to Appellant. In
turn, accused Simplicio Canasares took the wallet and wristwatch of Severino. In respect of the P50,000.00 from
Mayor Caram, Rodita declared that the Mayor handed the amount to her after she (the Mayor) had opened the
padlocked door and that she thereafter gave the amount to one of the holduppers. The "taking" was, therefore,
sufficiently proved (TSN, July 1, 1987, pp. 12-13, 15-16, 27-31). The money demanded, and the wallet and
wristwatch were within the dominion and control of the Appellant and his co-accused and completed the taking.

The State established a "taking" sufficient to support a conviction of robbery even though the perpetrators
were interrupted by police and so did not pick up the money offered by the victim, where the defendant and
an accomplice, armed with a knife and a club respectively, had demanded the money from the female clerk
of a convenience store, and the clerk had complied with their instructions and placed money from the
register in a paper bag and then placed the bag on the counter in front of the two men; these actions
brought the money within the dominion and control of defendant and completed the taking. (Johnson vs.
State, 432 So 2d 758).

"Severance of the goods from the possession of the owner and absolute control of the property by the taker,
even for an instant, constitutes asportation (Adams vs. Commonwealth, 154 SW 381; State vs. Murray, 280
SW 2d 809; Mason vs. Commonwealth, 105 SE 2d 149) [Emphasis supplied].

It is no defense either that Appellant and his co-accused had no opportunity to dispose of the personalities taken.
That fact does not affect the nature of the crime, From the moment the offender gained possession of the thing,
even if the culprit had no opportunity to dispose of the same, the unlawful taking is complete (Reyes, Revised
Penal Code Annotated, Book II, 1981 ed., p. 594).

The crime is consummated when the robber acquires possession of the property, even if for a short time,
and it is not necessary that the property be taken into the hands of the robber, or that he should have
actually carried the property away, out of the physical presence of the lawful possessor, or that he should
have made his escape with it" (People vs. Quinn, 176 P 2d 404; Woods vs. State, 220 SW 2d 644; People vs.
Beal, 39 P 2d 504; People vs. Clark, 160 P 2d 553).

Contrary to Appellant's submission, therefore, a conviction for consummated and not merely attempted Robbery is
in order.

It is the contention of Appellant that Rodita could not have seen the taking because the place was dark since the
doors were closed and there were no windows. It will be recalled, however, that Rodita was one of the hostages
herself and could observe the unfolding of events. Her failure to mention the taking in her sworn statement would
not militate against her credibility, it being settled that an affidavit is almost always incomplete and inaccurate
and does not disclose the complete facts for want of inquiries or suggestions (People vs. Andaya, G.R. No. L-63862,
31 July 1987, 152 SCRA 570; People vs. Tan, et al., 89 Phil. 337 [1951]).
The fact, too, that Rodita was an employee of Severino would not lessen her credibility. The defense has not proven
that she was actuated by any improper motive in testifying against the accused.

In the last analysis, the basic consideration centers around the credibility of witnesses in respect of which the
findings of the Trial Court are entitled to great weight as it was in a superior position to assess the same in the
course of the trial (see People vs. Ornoza G.R. No. L-56283, 30 June 1987, 151 SCRA 495; People vs. Alcantara,
G.R. No. L-38042, 30 June 1987, 151 SCRA 326).

Anent the second assignment of error, the "surrender" of the Appellant and his co-accused cannot be considered in
their favor to mitigate their liability. To be mitigating, a surrender must have the following requisites: (a) that the
offender had not been actually arrested; (b) that the offender surrendered himself to a person in authority or to his
agent; and (c) that the surrender was voluntary (People vs. Canamo, G.R. No. L-62043, 13 August 1985, 138 SCRA
141).

The "surrender" by the Appellant and his co-accused hardly meets these requirements. They were, indeed, asked
to surrender by the police and military authorities but they refused until only much later when they could no
longer do otherwise by force of circumstances when they knew they were completely surrounded and there was no
chance of escape. The surrender of the accused was held not to be mitigating as when he gave up only after he was
surrounded by the constabulary and police forces (People vs. Sigayan et al., G.R. Nos. L-18523-26, 30 April 1966,
16 SCRA 839; People vs. Mationg G.R. No. L-33488, 29 March 1982, 113 SCRA 167). Their surrender was not
spontaneous as it was motivated more by an intent to insure their safety. And while it is claimed that they
intended to surrender, the fact is that they did not despite several opportunities to do so. There is no voluntary
surrender to speak of (People vs. Dimdiman 106 Phil. 391 [1959]).

All told, the assigned errors remain unsubstantiated and we find the guilt of the accused-appellant, Bienvenido
Salvilla, established beyond reasonable doubt.

Although unassigned as an error, we deem it necessary to turn now to the nature of the linked offenses involved
and the penalty imposed by the Trial Court.

Appellant and his co-accused were charged in the Information with "Robbery with Serious Physical Injuries and
Serious Illegal Detention ("Art. 295, par. 3, in conjunction with Art. 267, RPC )and sentenced to reclusion perpetua.
We agree with the Trial Court that a complex crime under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code has been committed
such that the penalty for the more serious offense of Serious Illegal Detention (Art. 267, Revised Penal Code), or
"reclusion perpetua to death," is to be imposed instead of the penalty prescribed for Robbery with Serious Physical
Injuries (Art. 294 (3), which is reclusion temporal.

Under Article 48, a complex crime arises "when an offense is a necessary means for committing the other." The
term "necessary means" does not connote indispensable means for if it did then the offense as a "necessary means"
to commit another would be an indispensable element of the latter and would be an ingredient thereof. The phrase
"necessary means" merely signifies that one crime is committed to facilitate and insure the commission of the
other (Aquino, Revised Penal Code, Vol. I, 1987 ed., p. 624, citing Dissent, Montemayor, J., Amado Hernandez, 99
Phil. 515). In this case, the crime of Serious Illegal Detention was such a "necessary means" as it was selected by
Appellant and his co-accused to facilitate and carry out more effectively their evil design to stage a robbery.

The facts of this case differ from those in People vs. Astor, et al. (G.R. Nos. L-71765-66, 29 April 1987, 149 SCRA
325) where the accused were convicted of Robbery but acquitted in the case for Serious Illegal Detention and
where it was held that "the detention is absorbed in the crime of robbery." For one, in Astor, there were two (2)
separate Informations filed, one for Robbery and another for Serious Illegal Detention. In the present case, only
one Information was filed charging the complex offense. For another, in Astor, the robbery had already been
consummated and the detention was merely to forestall the capture of the robbers by the police. Not so in this
case, where the detention was availed of as a means of insuring the consummation of the robbery. Further, in
Astor, the detention was only incidental to the main crime of robbery so that it was held therein:

. . . were appellants themselves not trapped by the early arrival of the police at the scene of the crime, they
would have not anymore detained the people inside since they have already completed their job. Obviously,
appellants were left with no choice but to resort to detention of these people as security, until
arrangements for their safe passage were made. This is not the crime of illegal detention punishable under
the penal laws but an act of restraint in order to delay the pursuit of the criminals by peace officers (People
v. Sol, 9 Phil. 265; People v. Uday 55 Phil. 167, cited in the Revised Penal Code, Aquino, Vol. 3, 1976 ed.,
p. 1337). Where the victims in a robbery case were detained in the course of robbery, the detention is
absorbed by the crime of robbery (P. v. Baysa, 92 Phil. 1008, id.). In the case at bar, the detention was only
incidental to the main crime of robbery, and although in the course thereof women and children were also
held, that threats to kill were made, the act should not be considered as a separate offense. Appellants
should only be held guilty of robbery.

In contract, the detention in the case at bar was not only incidental to the robbery but was a necessary means to
commit the same.1âwphi1 After the amount of P20,000.00 was handed to Appellant, the latter and his co-accused
still refused to leave. The victims were then taken as hostages and the demand to produce an additional
P100,000.00 was made as a prerequisite for their release. The detention was not because the accused were
trapped by the police nor were the victims held as security against the latter. The detention was not merely a
matter of restraint to enable the malefactors to escape, but deliberate as a means of extortion for an additional
amount. The police and other authorities arrived only much later after several hours of detention had already
passed. And, despite appeals to appellant and his co-accused to surrender, they adamantly refused until the
amount of P100,000.00 they demanded could be turned over to them. They even considered P50,000.00, the
amount being handed to them, as inadequate.

The foregoing features also distinguish this case from those of U.S. v. Sol, 9 Phil. 265 [1907] where the restraint
was for no other purpose than to prevent the victims from reporting the crime to the authorities; from People v.
Gamboa, 92 Phil. 1085 [1953] where the victims were taken to a place one kilometer away and shot in order to
liquidate the witnesses to the robbery; from People v. Baysa, 92 Phil. 1008 [1953]; People v. Manzanilla, 43 Phil.
167 [1922], all of which cases were cited in Astor and where the victims were only incidentally detained so that the
detention was deemed absorbed in robbery.

In other words, unlike in the above cases, the elements of the offense of Serious Illegal Detention are present in
this case. The victims were illegally deprived of their liberty. Two females (Mary and Minnie) and a minor (Minnie),
a specified circumstance in Article 267 (3), were among those detained. The continuing detention was also for the
purpose of extorting ransom, another listed circumstance in Article 267 (last parag.) not only from the detained
persons themselves but even from the authorities who arrived to rescue them.

It follows then that as the detention in this case was not merely incidental to the robbery but a necessary means
employed to facilitate it, the penalty imposed by the Trial Court is proper.

WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED. Proportionate costs.

SO ORDERED.

EPIFANIO vs PEOPLE, June 26, 2007

Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court assailing the
Decision1 dated May 22, 2002 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 17995 which affirmed the Decision2
dated July 5, 1994 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 4, Panabo, Davao (RTC) in Criminal Case No. 91-15 finding
Leonidas Epifanio y Lazaro (petitioner) guilty of Frustrated Murder, and the CA Resolution 3 dated January 14,
2003 which denied petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration.

The facts of the case, as found by the RTC and the CA, are as follows:

At around 9:00 o'clock in the evening of August 15, 1990, Crisaldo Alberto (Crisaldo) and his cousin, Allan Perez
(Allan), were walking to their respective homes in Kilometer 7, Del Monte, Samal, Davao after spending time at the
house of Crisaldo's father. Since the pavement going to Crisaldo's house followed a narrow pathway along the local
shrubs called banganga, Allan walked ahead of Crisaldo at a distance of about three (3) meters.4 Suddenly,
Crisaldo felt the piercing thrust of a bladed weapon on his back, which caused him to cry out in pain. He made a
quick turnaround and saw his attacker, petitioner, also known as "Iyo (Uncle) Kingkoy." Petitioner stabbed
Crisaldo again but only hit the latter's left arm.5

When Allan heard Crisaldo's outcry, he rushed to Crisaldo's side and said, "Iyo Kingkoy (Uncle Kingkoy), why did
you stab Saldo?" which caused petitioner to run away.6 Allan then brought Crisaldo to his father's house where
Crisaldo's wounds were wrapped in a blanket. Crisaldo was then brought to the Peñaplata Hospital where he was
given first aid and then transferred to the Davao Medical Center where he stayed for three weeks to recuperate
from his wounds.7 The attending physician, Santiago Aquino, issued a Medical Certificate dated September 4,
1990, with the following findings:

1. Stab wound (R) scapular area (Medial border) at level 5-7th ICS (L) arm Medial aspect M3rd

2. Fracture 7th and 8th rib, posterior, right.

Probable healing time will be 15-30 days barring complication.8

Subsequently, petitioner was charged with Frustrated Murder in Criminal Case No. 91-15. The Information dated
January 4, 1991 reads:

That on or about August 15, 1990, in the Municipality of Samal, Province of Davao, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with treachery and evident premeditation, with
intent to kill, armed with a knife, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously attack, assault and stab
one Crisaldo Alberto, thereby inflicting upon him wounds which ordinarily would have caused his death, thus the
accused performed all the acts of execution which would produce the crime of murder, as a consequence but
which, nevertheless, did not produce it by reason of some causes independent of the will of the accused, that is, by
the timely and able medical assistance rendered to said Crisaldo Alberto, and further causing actual, moral and
compensatory damages to the offended party.

Contrary to law.9
During his arraignment on June 25, 1991, petitioner, with the assistance of counsel, pleaded "not guilty."10

Petitioner's defense consisted mainly of denial. He claims that at 7:00 o'clock in the morning of August 15, 1990,
he went to Anonang, within the Municipality of Kaputian, and harvested coconuts by climbing the coconut trees;
that he went back home at 4:30 in the afternoon and he slept at 8:00 o'clock in the evening; that while he was
sleeping, his wife awakened him because Salvador Epifanio (Salvador) was asking for help, as somebody was
hacked, and he went to the place of incident with Salvador; that he found out that Crisaldo was already wrapped
in cloth and he asked Crisaldo who was responsible for stabbing him, but he did not answer; that they loaded
Crisaldo in the jeep to take him to the nearby hospital; that he and Salvador took a ride with Crisaldo up to Del
Monte where the two of them alighted and reported the incident to the barangay captain; that the following
morning, he went to Anonang to harvest coconuts; that at around 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon when he arrived
home, policemen Barraga and Labrador were in his house and told him that he was the suspect in the stabbing
incident; that he was detained but he was not investigated anymore and was ordered to go home.11

On July 5, 1994, the RTC rendered its Decision12 convicting the petitioner, the dispositive portion of which reads:

IN THE LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING, finding the accused, Leonidas Epifanio y Lazaro guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of Frustrated Murder punishable under Article 248 in relation to Article 6 of the Revised Penal
Code, the Court hereby sentence this accused to an indeterminate imprisonment of SIX (6) YEARS and ONE (1)
DAY of prision mayor as minimum to TEN (10) YEARS of prision mayor as maximum together with the accessory
penalties provided by law, and to pay the costs.

Accused is hereby ordered to indemnify Crisaldo Alberto the sum of P6,000.00 by way of damages.

SO ORDERED.13

Petitioner appealed his conviction to the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 17995.14 On May 22, 2002, the CA
rendered a Decision15 affirming in toto the Decision of the RTC.

Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration16 but it was denied by the CA in a Resolution17 dated January 14,
2003.

Petitioner filed the present petition raising a sole issue for resolution, to wit:

WHETHER THE GUILT OF THE PETITIONER FOR THE CRIME OF FRUSTRATED MURDER WAS PROVEN
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.18

Petitioner does not seek the reversal of his conviction but only that it be for the lesser offense of attempted murder.
He contends that there is no evidence that the injuries sustained by Crisaldo were life-threatening or would have
caused his death had it not been for timely medical intervention since the medical certificate only stated that the
healing time of the wounds sustained by Crisaldo was "15-30 days barring complication", with no notation or
testimony of the attending physician that any of the injuries was life-threatening.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), on the other hand, contends that the failure to present the doctor to
testify on the nature of the wounds suffered by Crisaldo was not raised as an issue in the RTC; that petitioner is
now barred from raising it in the present petition for review without offending the basic rules of fair play, justice
and due process; that petitioner did not object to the admissibility of the medical certificate when it was offered in
evidence; that the crime is frustrated murder since petitioner performed "all the acts of execution"; that the three-
week length of stay in the hospital of Crisaldo is not determinative of whether or not the wounds are fatal.

The petition is impressed with merit.

The non-presentation of the doctor to testify on the nature of the wounds, while not raised as an issue in the RTC,
does not bar the petitioner from raising it on appeal. It is a well-settled rule that an appeal in a criminal case
throws the whole case wide open for review and the reviewing tribunal can correct errors, though unassigned in
the appealed judgment, or even reverse the trial court’s decision on the basis of grounds other than those that the
parties raised as errors.19

It must be stressed that it is not the gravity of the wounds alone which determines whether a felony is attempted
or frustrated, but whether the assailant had passed the subjective phase in the commission of the offense.

In the leading case of United States v. Eduave,20 Justice Moreland, speaking for the Court, distinguished an
attempted from a frustrated felony. He said that to be an attempted crime, the purpose of the offender must be
thwarted by a foreign force or agency which intervenes and compels him to stop prior to the moment when he has
performed all the acts which should produce the crime as a consequence, which act it is his intention to perform.21

The subjective phase in the commission of a crime is that portion of the acts constituting the crime included
between the act which begins the commission of the crime and the last act performed by the offender which, with
prior acts, should result in the consummated crime. Thereafter, the phase is objective.22
In case of an attempted crime, the offender never passes the subjective phase in the commission of the crime. The
offender does not arrive at the point of performing all of the acts of execution which should produce the crime. He
is stopped short of that point by some cause apart from his voluntary desistance.23

On the other hand, a crime is frustrated when the offender has performed all the acts of execution which should
result in the consummation of the crime. The offender has passed the subjective phase in the commission of the
crime. Subjectively, the crime is complete. Nothing interrupted the offender while passing through the subjective
phase. He did all that was necessary to consummate the crime; however, the crime is not consummated by reason
of the intervention of causes independent of the will of the offender.24

In homicide cases, the offender is said to have performed all the acts of execution if the wound inflicted on the
victim is mortal and could cause the death of the victim barring medical intervention or attendance. 25 If one inflicts
physical injuries on another but the latter survives, the crime committed is either consummated physical injuries,
if the offender had no intention to kill the victim; or frustrated or attempted homicide or frustrated murder or
attempted murder if the offender intends to kill the victim.26

Intent to kill may be proved by evidence of: (a) motive; (b) the nature or number of weapons used in the
commission of the crime; (c) the nature and number of wounds inflicted on the victim; (d) the manner the crime
was committed; and (e) words uttered by the offender at the time the injuries were inflicted by him on the victim.27

In the present case, the intent to kill is very evident and was established beyond reasonable doubt through the
unwavering testimony of Crisaldo on the manner of execution of the attack as well as the number of wounds he
sustained. Crisaldo was stabbed from behind by petitioner. When Crisaldo turned around, petitioner continued his
assault, hitting Crisaldo on the left arm as the latter tried to defend himself. The treacherous manner in which
petitioner perpetrated the crime is shown not only by the sudden and unexpected attack upon the unsuspecting
victim but also by the deliberate manner in which the assault was perpetrated.28

Nonetheless, petitioner failed to perform all the acts of execution, because Allan came to the aid of Crisaldo and
petitioner was forced to scamper away. He did not voluntarily desist from stabbing Crisaldo, but he had to stop
stabbing when Allan rushed to help Crisaldo and recognized petitioner. Thus, the subjective phase of the crime
had not been completed.

Moreover, the prosecution failed to present testimonial evidence on the nature of the wounds sustained by
Crisaldo. The Court has discussed the importance of ascertaining the degree of injury sustained by a victim in
People v. Matyaong,29 thus:

In considering the extent of injury done, account must be taken of the injury to the function of the various organs,
and also the danger to life. A division into mortal and nonmortal wounds, if it could be made, would be very
desirable; but the unexpected complications and the various extraneous causes which give gravity to the simplest
cases, and, on the other hand, the favorable termination of some injuries apparently the most dangerous, render
any such classification impracticable. The general classification into slight, severe, dangerous, and mortal wounds
may be used, but the possibility of the slight wound terminating with the loss of the person’s life, and the
apparently mortal ending with only a slight impairment of some function, must always be kept in mind. x x x

The danger to life of any wound is dependent upon a number of factors: the extent of the injury, the form of the
wound, the region of the body affected, the blood vessels, nerves, or organs involved, the entrance of disease-
producing bacteria or other organisms into the wound, the age and constitution of the person injured, and the
opportunities for administering proper surgical treatment. x x x30

No evidence in this case was introduced to prove that Crisaldo would have died from his wound without timely
medical attendance. It is well-settled that where there is nothing in the evidence to show that the wound would be
fatal if not medically attended to, the character of the wound is doubtful; hence, the doubt should be resolved in
favor of the accused and the crime committed by him may be declared as attempted, not frustrated, murder. 31

Accordingly, the imposable penalty for the crime of attempted murder, following Article 51 of the Revised Penal
Code, is prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its medium period. Applying the
Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum of the penalty to be imposed should be within the range of arresto
mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its medium period, and the maximum of the penalty to be
imposed should be within the range of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its medium
period. Since no generic aggravating or mitigating circumstance attended the commission of the crime of attempted
murder, the penalty should be two (2) years and four (4) months of prision correccional, as minimum; and eight (8)
years of prision mayor, as maximum.

Anent the award of P6,000.00 as damages, the Court notes that the receipts showing the expenses incurred during
Crisaldo's hospitalization amounted only to P853.50.32 As a general rule, a party seeking the award of actual
damages must produce competent proof or the best evidence obtainable to justify such award.33 Only
substantiated and proven expenses will be recognized in court. Nonetheless, in lieu of actual damages, the Court
grants temperate damages of P6,000.00, as it cannot be denied that Crisaldo incurred expenses during his three-
week stay in the provincial hospital, although the exact amount cannot be proved with certainty. 34
WHEREFORE, the Decision dated July 5, 1994 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 4, Panabo, Davao in Criminal
Case No. 91-15 is MODIFIED to the effect that petitioner is found GUILTY of ATTEMPTED MURDER and is
sentenced to suffer an indeterminate imprisonment of 2 years and 4 months of prision correccional, as minimum,
and 8 years of prision mayor, as maximum together with the accessory penalties provided by law; and petitioner is
ordered to indemnify Crisaldo Alberto the sum of P6,000.00 as temperate damages, and costs.

SO ORDERED.

PEOPLE vs SY PIO, April 30, 1954

This is an appeal from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Manila finding the defendant-appellant herein
Sy Pio, alias Policarpio de la Cruz, guilty of frustrated murder against the person of Tan Siong Kiap, and
sentencing him to suffer an indeterminate sentence of 6 years, 1 month, and 11 days of prision mayor, to 14 years,
8 months, and 1 day of reclusion temporal, to indemnify the offended party Tan Siong Kiap in the sum of P350,
without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs. The case was appealed to the Court
of Appeals, but that court certified it to this Court under the provisions of section 17 (4) of Republic Act No. 296,
on the ground that the crime charged was committed on the same occasion that the defendant-appellant had
committed crime of murder, with which the defendant-appellant was also charged.

The evidence for the prosecution shows that early in the morning of September 3, 1949, the defendant-appellant
entered the store at 511 Misericordia, Sta Cruz, Manila. Once inside he started firing a .45 caliber pistol that he
had in his hand. The first one shot was Jose Sy. Tan Siong Kiap, who was in the store and saw the accused enter
and afterwards fire a shot at Jose Sy, asked the defendant-appellant, "What is the idea?" Thereupon defendant-
appellant turned around and fired at him also. The bullet fired from defendant-appellant's pistol entered the right
shoulder of Tan Siong Kiap immediately ran to a room behind the store to hide. From there he still heard gunshot
fired from defendant-appellant's pistol, but afterwards defendant-appellant ran away.

Tan Siong Kiap was brought to the Chinese General Hospital, where his wound was treated. He stayed there from
September 3 to September 12, 1949, when he was released upon his request and against the physician's advice.
He was asked to return to the hospital for further treatment, and he did so five times for a period of more than ten
days. Thereafter his wound was completely healed. He spent the sum of P300 for hospital and doctor's fees.

The defendant-appellant shot two other persons in the morning of September 3, 1949, before shooting and
wounding Tan Siong Kiap; one was Ong Pian and the other Jose Sy. On September 5 information was received by
the Manila Police Department that defendant-appellant was in custody of the Constabulary in Tarlac, so a captain
of the Manila police by the name of Daniel V. Lomotan proceeded to Tarlac. There he saw the defendant-appellant
and had a conversation with him. On this occasion defendant-appellant and had a conversation with him. On this
occasion defendant-appellant admitted to Lomotan that his victims were Tan Siong Kiap, Ong Pian, and Jose Sy.
The Constabulary in Tarlac also delivered to Lomotan the pistol used by the defendant-appellant, marked Exhibit
C, and its magazine, Exhibit C-1, both of which the Constabulary had confiscated from the defendant-appellant.
The defendant-appellant was thereupon delivered to the custody of Lomotan, and the latter brought him to Manila,
where his statement was taken down in writing. This declaration was submitted at the time of the trial as Exhibit
D, and it contains all the details of the assaults that defendant-appellant 3 against the persons of Tan Siong Kiap,
Ong Pian, and Jose Sy. This written statement was taken down on a typewriter and afterwards signed by the
defendant-appellant in both his Chinese and Filipino names, the latter being Policarpio de la Cruz.

According to the declaration of the defendant-appellant, some months prior to September 3, 1949, he was
employed as an attendant in a restaurant belonging to Ong Pian. Defendant-appellant's wife by the name of
Vicenta was also employed by Ong Pian's partner, Eng Cheng Suy. Prior to September 3 the relatives of his wife
had been asking the latter for help, because her father was sick. Defendant-appellant asked money from Ong Pian,
but the latter could only give him P1. His wife was able to borrow P20 from her employer, and this was sent to his
wife's parents in Cebu. Afterwards defendant-appellant was dismissed from his work at the restaurant of Ong
Pian, and he became a peddler. Ong Pian presented a list of the sums that defendant-appellant had borrowed from
him, and these sums were deducted from the salary of his wife. Defendant-appellant did not recognize these sums
as his indebtedness, and so he resented Ong Pian's conduct.

As to Tan Siong Kiap, the confession states that a few days before September 3, 1949, defendant-appellant had
been able to realize the sum of P70 from the sales of medicine that he peddled. He laid his money in a place in his
room, but the following morning he found that it had disappeared from the place in which he had placed it. Tan
Siong Kiap and Jose Sy, upon the discovery of the loss of money, told defendant-appellant that he must have given
the money to his wife, and that nobody had stolen it. After this incident of the loss, the defendant-appellant used
to hear Tan Siong Kiap and Jose Sy and other Chinamen say that the money had not been actually stolen, but
that he lost it in gambling. Because of these accusations against him, he nurtured resentment against both Tan
Siong Kiap and Jose Sy.

So early in the morning of September 3, while a Chinaman by the name of Ngo Cho, who the possessor of a caliber
.45 pistol, was away from his room, defendant-appellant got his pistol and tucked it in his belt. With this pistol he
went to the restaurant at 822 Ongpin, and there shot Ong Pian. After shooting him, he proceeded to 511
Misericordia, in store where Jose Sy and Tan Siong Kiap were, and there he fired at them. Then he escaped to
Legarda Street, in Sampaloc, where he borrowed P1 from his relatives. From there he went to Malabon, to the
house of his mother, to whom he told he had killed two persons and from he asked money.
The foregoing is the substance of the written declaration made by the defendant-appellant in Exhibit D on
September 6, 1949. At the time of the trial, however, he disowned the confession and explained that he signed it
without having read its contents. He declared that it was not he who shot the three victims, but it was one by the
name of Chua Tone, with whom he had previously connived to kill the three other victims. He introduced no
witnesses, however, to support his denial. Neither did he deny that he admitted before Captain Lomotan having
killed the three persons, or having been found in Tarlac in possession of the caliber .45 pistol, Exhibit C, and its
magazine, Exhibit C-1. In his cross-examination he admitted many of the incidents mentioned in the confession,
especially the cause of his resentment against his victims Ong Pian, Jose Sy, and Tan Siong Kiap.

The trial court refused to believed his testimony, and therefore, found him guilty of the crime charged.

On this appeal counsel for the defendant-appellant claims that the trial court erred in not finding that Tan Siong
Kiap received the shot accidentally from the same bullet that had been fired at Jose Sy, and in finding that
defendant-appellant has committed a crime distinct and separate from that of murder for the slaying of Jose Sy.
We find no merit in this contention. According to the uncontradicted testimony of the offended party Tan Siong
Kiap, when the latters saw defendant-appellant firing shots he asked him why he was doing so, and the defendant-
appellant, instead of answering him, turned around and fired at him also. It is not true, therefore, that the shot
which hit him was fired at Sy.

It is also contended that the evidence is not sufficient to sustain the judgment of conviction. We also find no merit
in this contention. The evidence submitted to prove the charge consists of: the uncontradicted testimony of the
victim himself; the admissions made verbally by the defendant-appellant before Captain Lomotan in Tarlac; the
fact that the defendant-appellant had escaped and was found in Tarlac; his possession of the .45 caliber pistol
coupled with the fact, attested to by the testimony of the physician who examined and treated the wounds of Tan
Siong Kiap, that the wounds found in his person must have been caused by the caliber .45 bullet; and, lastly, the
confession of the defendant-appellant himself, Exhibit D, which he was not able to impugn. As against this mass
of evidence, defendant-appellant has only made a very unbelievable story that it was not he but another that had
committed the crime charged. His admissions at the time of the trial regarding the incidents, as well as the cause
of his having assaulted his victims, coincide exactly with the reasons given in his written confession. This shows
that he had made the confession himself, for nobody but himself could have known the facts therein stated. The
claim that the offense has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt must be dismissed.

The defendant-appellant lastly claims that the lower court also erred in sentencing him to pay an indemnity of
P350. The offended party testified that he actually spent P300 for hospital and doctor's fees, and that he was
confined in the hospital for nine days. The above facts stand uncontradicted. This assignment of error must also
be dismissed.

It is lastly contended that the defendant-appellant should be found guilty only of less serious physical injuries
instead of the crime of frustrated murder as defendant-appellant admitted in his confession in the open court that
he had a grudge against the offended party, and that he connived with another to kill the latter. The intent to kill
is also evident from his conduct in firing the shot directly at the body of the offended party.

But while intent to kill is conclusively proved the wound inflicted was not necessarily fatal, because it did not
touch any of the vital organs of the body. As a matter of fact, the medical certification issued by the physician who
examined the wound of the offended party at the time he went to the hospital, states that the wound was to heal
within a period of fourteen days, while the offended party actually stayed in the hospital for nine days and
continued receiving treatment thereafter five time for the period of more than ten days, or a total of not more than
thirty days. The question that needs to be determined, therefore, is: Did the defendant-appellant perform all the
acts of execution necessary to produce the death of his victim?

In the cases of U.S. vs. Eduave, 36 Phil., 209, People vs. Dagman, 47 Phil., 768 and People vs. Borinaga, 55 Phil.,
433, this Court has held that it is not necessary that the accused actually commit all the acts of execution
necessary to produce the death of his victim, but that it is sufficient that he believes that he has committed all
said acts. In the case of People vs. Dagman, supra, the victim was first knocked down by a stone thrown at him,
then attacked with a lance, and then wounded by bolos and clubs wielded by the accused, but the victim upon
falling down feigned death, and the accused desisted from further continuing in the assault in the belief that their
victim was dead. And in the case of People vs. Borinaga, supra, the accused stabbed his intended victim, but the
knife with which he committed the aggression instead of hitting the body of the victim, lodged in the back of the
chair in which he was seated, although the accused believed that he had already harmed him. In both these cases
this Court held that of the crime committed was that of frustrated murder, because the subjective phase of the
acts necessary to commit the offense had already passed; there was full and complete belief on the part of the
assailant that he had committed all the acts of execution necessary to produce the death of the intended victim.

In the case at bar, however, the defendant-appellant fired at his victim, and the latter was hit, but he was able to
escape and hide in another room. The fact that he was able to escape, which appellant must have seen, must have
produced in the mind of the defendant-appellant that he was not able to his his victim at a vital part of the body.
In other words, the defendant-appellant knew that he had not actually all the acts of execution necessary to kill
his victim. Under these circumstances, it can not be said that the subjective phase of the acts of execution had
been completed. And as it does not appear that the defendant-appellant continued in the pursuit, and as a matter
of fact, he ran away afterwards a reasonable doubt exist in our mind that the defendant-appellant had actually
believed that he has committed all the acts of execution or passed the subjective phase of the said acts. This doubt
must be resolved in favor of the defendant-appellant.
We are, therefore, not prepared to find the defendant-appellant guilty of frustrated murder, as charged in the
information. We only find him guilty of attempted murder, because he did not perform all the acts of execution,
actual and subjective, in order that the purpose and intention that he had to kill his victim might be carried out.

Therefore, the judgment appealed from should be, as it is hereby, modified and the defendant-appellant is found
guilty of the crime of attempted murder, and the sentence imposed upon him reduced to an indeterminate penalty
of from 4 years, 2 months, and 1 day of prision correccional to 10 years of prision mayor. In all other respects the
judgment is affirmed. With costs against the defendant-appellant.

PEOPLE vs RAVELO, October 15, 1991

The accused Pedro Ravelo, Bonifacio "Patyong" Padilla, Romeo Aspirin, Nicolas Guadalupe and Hermie Pahit
appeal the two (2) judgments of the Regional Trial Court of Tandag, Surigao del Sur, Branch 27, which convicted
them of murder of one Reynaldo Cabrera Gaurano and of frustrated murder of Joey Lugatiman.

In the murder case (Criminal Case No. 1187), each of the accused was sentenced to serve the penalty of reclusion
perpetua and to severally pay an indemnity of P25,000.00 to the mother of the victim. In the frustrated murder
case (Criminal Case No. 1194), each of them was sentenced to serve the penalty of imprisonment ranging from
eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as minimum to ten (10) years of prision mayor as maximum.

The accused were all charged with kidnapping with murder and kidnapping with frustrated murder. However, the
trial court found accused-appellants guilty only of murder and frustrated murder as convicted. The accused Josen
Ravelo and Jerry Ravelo are still at large.

The present petition was originally one that sought the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. The Court instead
resolved to treat it as an appeal in view of the near capital nature of the crimes for which the appellants were
convicted.

The accused-appellants are all membersof the Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF) stationed at a checkpoint near
the airport at Awasian in Mabua, Tandag,Surigao del Sur. The prosecution alleged that they stopped the two (2)
victims for questioning on the suspicion that the latter were insurgents or members of the New People's Army.
(NPA).

In Criminal Case No. 1187, the accused-appellants were charged with having committed kidnapping with murder
in the following manner:

That at approximately 6:30 o'clock in the evening, May 21, 1984, in Barangay Dawis, San Agustin
Sur, municipality of Tandag, province of Surigao del Sur, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, PEDRO RAVELO, JERRY RAVELO, BONIFACIO
`Patyong' PADILLA, ROMEO ASPIRIN, NICOLAS GUADALUPE, HERMIE PAHIT and JOSEN
RAVELO, conspiring, confederating, and mutually helping each other did, then and there, wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously take, pick-up, kidnap by meansof force, one REYNALDO CABRERA
GAURANO, a minor, while the latter was walking along Tandag Bridge at barangay Dawis, San
Agustin Sur, then the above-named accused carried away the said, Reynaldo Cabrera Gaurano to
barangay Awasian and detained, kept and locked him in a room at the house of Pedro Ravelo, one
of the accused herein, from 7:00 o'clock in the evening, May 21, 1984 to 4:00 o'clock dawn, May
22, 1984, or a period of 10 hours under restraint and against the will of said minor, Reynaldo
Cabrera Gaurano and that the above named accused during the said period of kidnapping,
maltreated and refused to release said Reynaldo Cabrera Gaurano, and while on the same period of
time at about 4:00 o'clock dawn, May 22, 1984, at barangay Awasian, Tandag, Surigao del Sur and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, Pedro Ravelo, Jerry
Ravelo, Bonifacio `Patyong' Padilla, Romeo Aspirin, Nicolas Guadalupe, Hermie Pahit, and Josen
Ravelo, conspiring, confederating, and mutually helping each other, armed with a pistol, armalites,
and carbines, with intent to kill, with treachery and evident premeditation did, then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, assault, attack, cut, slash, and burn, the said Reynaldo
Cabrera Guarano, hitting and inflicting upon the latter, the following wounds or injuries:

1. Blisters formation noted all over the body reddish in color, which easily peel off on pressure;
containing clear fluids; with hemorrhagic reaction beneath blisters;

2. Swollen face with contusion and hematoma formation; loosening of hair notes; right ear missing
with circular incised wound around;

3. Incised wound 24 cm. length around the neck cutting the esophagus, pharynx, arteries and
veins; up to the 2nd cervical bone in depth;

4. Contusions and hematomas noted anterior chest wall, abdomen and at the back; upper and
lower extremeties of different sizes and forms. (Rollo, pp. 8-9)

In Criminal Case No. 1194, they werecharged with kidnapping with frustrated murder committed as follows:
That on or about 1:00 o'clock in the morning on May 22, 1984 in barangay Awasian, municipality
of Tandag, province of Surigao del Sur, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above named accused PEDRO RAVELO, HERMIE PAHIT, BONIFACIO PADILLA, ROMEO
ASPIRIN, NICOLAS GUADALUPE, JERRY RAVELO AND JOSEN RAVELO, conspiring, confederating
and mutually aiding one another armed with the deadly weapons such as pistols, armalite and
carbine, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously by means of force and at gun point
stop the hauler truck of the South Sea Merchant Company which was on the way to Tandag,
Surigao del Sur from sitio Lumbayagan, Barangay Maticdom, municipality of Tandag, Surigao del
Sur and kidnap one JOEY LUGATIMAN, who is on board the said hauler truck by forcibly taking
said Joey Lugatiman and carry him to the house of accused Pedro Ravelo then to the Airborne
Headquarters at Mabua, Tandag, Surigao del Sur, and while thereat and in pursuance of their
conspiracy, with intent to kill, with evident premeditation and treachery and by taking advantage of
their superior strength being armed with deadly weapon did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously assault, by hitting and inflicting upon the latter the following wounds or injuries:

1. Small abrasion and hematoma, both wrist and left ankle;

2. Multiple small abrasions, chest and right neck and right ankle;

3. Multiple small abrasions and small hematoma, back;

4. Abrasion, upper left lips. (Rollo, pp.18-19)

The trial court based its findings on evidence presented by the prosecution at the trial proper which commenced
several months after the informations were filed. The prosecution evidence in Criminal Case No. 1187 are quoted
from the judgment, thus:

Witness Edilberto Salazar, 17 years old, student and resident of Tandag, testified that he knew all
the accused Pedro Ravelo, Bonifacio Padilla, Romeo Aspirin, Nicolas Guadalupe and Hermie Pahit.
On May 21, 1984 at 5:30 in the afternoon, he was with a certain Diego Gallardo and Reynaldo
Cabrera Gaurano walking from Dawis to Dagocdoc to attend a dance. The dance not having began
being too early yet, they decided to go back to Dawis. On their way back while crossing the Tandag
bridge across the Tandag river, the accused Pedro Ravelo, Jerry Ravelo, Josen Ravelo, Bonifacio
Padilla, Romeo Aspirin, Hermie Pahit and Nicolas Guadalupe stopped them by pointing their guns.
He and Diego Gallardo ran away towards a group of old junk tractors and hid there. He saw
Reynaldo Gaurano chased by all the accused. He saw Reynaldo Gaurano ran up to the house of a
certain Fernando Cortes which was just opposite the tractors they were hiding, and which was just
across the road in front of the house of Fernando Cortes. Reynaldo Gaurano was caught up in the
house by Jerry Ravelo, Bonifacio Padilla and Nicolas Guadalupe. He saw Reynaldo Gaurano forced
and dragged down to a waiting pick-up on the road by Jerry Ravelo, Bonifacio Padilla and Nicolas
Guadalupe. Reynaldo Gaurano was loaded on the pick-up owned and driven by the accused Pedro
Ravelo. All the accused, together with Reynaldo Gaurano rode on the pick-up towards the Tandag
airport at Awasian. After Reynaldo Gaurano disappeared, he and Diego Gallardo went to the police
and reported the matter that Reynaldo Gaurano was brought by the accused to the airport.

On May 23, 1984, he was with the group who exhumed the body of Reynaldo Gaurano under a
mango tree near the Tandag airport and pointed to the investigator that that was the body of
Reynaldo Gaurano with blisters, without ear and a big wound on the neck. Placed on the mat the
cadaver was brought to the Mata Funeral Parlor at Tandag, Surigao del Sur in that morning of May
23, 1984.

Witness Francisco Villasis, 48 years old, farmer and resident of Awasian, testified that he knew
very well all the accused and that he personally saw them in the early dawn of May 22, 1984. He
declared that he was at the Awasian creek near a mango tree catching crabs with the use of a
"panggal", a bamboo knitted trap. From a distance of around twenty meters away, he saw a man
hanging from the mango tree over a fire. He saw the accused Jerry Ravelo placed fire on the
hanging person and the accused Romeo Aspirin placed a burning torch made of dried coconut
leaves at the back of the hanging person. The man hanging was not known to him. The man
hanged was also surrounded by Pedro Ravelo, Josen Ravelo, Nicolas Guadalupe, Hermie Pahit and
Bonifacio Padilla. For five minutes watching, he saw the clothing and body burned, he heard the
moanings of the person and heard the laughters of the accused. After witnessing that horrible
incident he went home hurriedly. On cross examination he further stated that he saw for the first
time the man already hanging under a fire (sic).

Witness Joey Lugatiman, 22 years old and resident of Dawis, Tandag, testifies that all the accused
are known to him for a long time. On May 21, 1984, with ten companions they went to a place in
the interior called Maticdum, Tandag, Surigao del Sur. After five hours stay, he, together with his
companions left Maticdum past midnight for Tandag on a loggingtruck. As soon as they passed by
the airport, they were stopped by the accused and were told to go down from the truck for
questioning. He was brought to the house of the accused Pedro Ravelo near the checkpoint. He was
asked if he was Joey Lugatiman and if he knew Reynaldo Gaurano. There at the headquarters, he
was asked if he was an NPA. For almost an hour stay at the headquarters he was boxed, kicked
and manhandled by Pedro Ravelo and by the other accused with the use of their guns until he
became almost unconscious. Then, from the headquarters at Mabua on that early dawn he was
brought again back in the same pick-up to Awasian airport, to the house of Pedro Ravelo and then
to the house of Bonifacio Padilla. Before proceeding to the house of Bonifacio Padilla, he saw his
friend Reynaldo Gaurano, one meter away, already weak with bruises on his face, hands tied at the
back and with a gag around the mouth, moving as if in the act of trying to free himself, with a
bleeding mouth. When he reached the house of Bonifacio Padilla, he was chained and tied to the
wall near the window of the house. Alone, he peeped through the window and saw Reynaldo
Gaurano hanging up the mango tree with fire below him. He heard the moanings of Reynaldo
Gaurano while hanging from the mango tree thirty meters away from the window of the house of
Bonifacio Padilla. He saw Pedro Ravelo and Josen Ravelo set fire on the body of Reynaldo Gaurano.
At 5:00 o'clock a.m. May 22, 1984, when alone, after being told that he would be killed at 9:00
o'clock in the evening at the Awasian bridge, he escaped by being able to untie himself at 10:00
o'clock in the morning of May 22, 1984. He reported what happened to him and to Reynaldo
Gaurano, to his parents and then to the police authorities and later submitted for physical
examination on that day, May 22, 1984 and finally was investigated on May 23, 1984 in connection
with this case. On cross examination he said that he knew all the accused. He knew that all the
accused are members of the CHDF.

Witness Zosima Gaurano, 46 years old, market vendor, a native of Tandag, testified that she is the
mother of Reynaldo Gaurano. Her son Reynaldo Gaurano left Cebu City on April 12, 1984 for
Tandag. On May 22, 1984 she received a telegram from her sister Remedios Fernandez that her son
Reynaldo is dead. She left for Tandag upon receipt of the telegram and arrived at Tandag on May
24, 1984. Upon her arrival she went to the Mata Funeral Parlor and then she found the dead body
of her son Reynaldo Gaurano inside the coffin and she saw many parts of the body of her son with
burns. She suffered moral damages and other expenses to the tune of P64,350.00.

Witness Remedios Cabrera Fernandez, widow, meat vendor and resident of Tandag testified that
Reynaldo Gaurano is her nephew because his mother Zosima is her younger sister. Her nephew
Reynaldo Gaurano was here in Tandag on vacation. On May 20, 1984, with two companions, Diego
Gallardo and Edilberto Salazar, he failed to go home to the house of her sister. After the second
day, May 22, 1984 at around 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon Edilberto Salazar and Diego Gallardo
informed her that Reynaldo Gaurano was kidnapped by Pedro Ravelo and his men. The message
was relayed to her to Atty. Buenaflor and to Col. Jesus Hermosa. On the following day, May 23,
1984, Col. Hermosa, with other officers inspected the house of Pedro Ravelo and the nearby
surroundings at Awasian. She was made to Identify an exhumed body at the back of the house of
Pedro Ravelo near the Mango tree. She saw the dead body of her nephew Reynaldo Gaurano
without an ear, the neck was almost cut, entire body with blisters, and naked. His body was
pictured and later on brought to the Mata Funeral Parlor at Tandag. She requested Dr. Romeo
delos Reyes of the Tandag Provincial Hospital to conduct an autopsy and after which the dead body
of Reynaldo Gaurano was embalmed to await the arrival of the mother from Cebu City.

Witness Dr. Romeo delos Reyes, a senior Resident physician of the Tandag Provincial Hospital
testified that he conducted an autopsy on the dead body of a certain Reynaldo Gaurano, Exhibit
"A", at the Mata Funeral Parlor. He found blisters formation caused by fire burns throughout; the
body was reddish and skin peels off easily; swollen face, hematoma, contusion, losing of hair,
wound around the neck; and these injuries could have been inflicted 36 to 48 hours before the
autopsy. Death certificate, Exhibit "B" was issued. The burns and the injuries above stated were
suffered before Reynaldo Gaurano died.

Witness Roberto Awa, a photographer of the Similar Studio who, for fifteen years, is a photographer
at Tandag, testified that he took the pictures of a dead man inside a hole upon orders of Col.
Hermosa at Awasian near the airport. He took pictures as shown in Exhibit "C", "C-1"; he took 8
positions of the dead body. While yet inside the holeexhibit "D" and as shown in Exhibit "E" and
"F", that was the dead body of Reynaldo Gaurano near the mango tree; Exhibit "G", while the
cadaver was inside the hole and Exhibit "H" is the picture while the body was lying on the mat.

Witness Cresenciano Rulona, Police Investigator of the Tandag Police Force, testified that at around
8:00 o'clock in the morning of May 23, 1984, he was the assistant team leader of the group that
proceeded to Tambacan, Awasian, Tandag to look for and inspect the place where a certain
Reynaldo Gaurano was kidnapped. Under a mango tree and about 25 meters near the house of
Bonifacio Padilla the group recovered a P.25 coin, a small comb, two zippers and burned pieces
ofcloth and burned coconut leaves, together with new excavated soil. Further search under the
mango tree led to the very place where the body of Reynaldo Gaurano was buried. At around 10:00
o'clock a.m., May 23, 1984, they exhumed the dead body which was buried under a depth of
around one meter under the mango tree which was around 25 meters from the house of Bonifacio
Padilla and around 150 meters from the house of Pedro Ravelo. The cadaver was first Identified to
be that of Reynaldo Gaurano by Edilberto Salazar. A photographer was called and pictures were
taken of the dead body of Reynaldo Gaurano from the hole and then the body was brought to the
surface and placed on the mat. Not one of the accused was present during the period while the
group was searching and exhuming the body of Reynaldo Gaurano. The body of Reynaldo Gaurano
shows signs of burns and several injuries, and was finally brought to the funeral parlor at Tandag.
As shown by the evidence, Reynaldo Cabrera Gaurano died on May 22, 1984 at Awasian, Tandag,
Surigao del Sur. His death was the result of the shock secondary to the wound around the neck,
Exhibit "A", and occurred while he was hanged by the accused with hands tied to a branch of a
mango tree. Sufferings of pains, through his moanings, were augmented and aggravated by the
tortures inflicted as vividly seen through the removal of the right ear, the wound around the neck
and placing of fires on his body, and the fire below his feet. Not only were these acts brutal and
cruel but also heartless and savage acts of the accused, devoid of an iota of sympathy, who,
instead, were happy and delighted to see the miseries suffered by their victim. Further, it was
shown that they helped one another or conspired with one another in torturing with the use of
their firearms, and in killing Reynaldo Gaurano. (Rollo, pp. 10-16)

Meanwhile, the prosecution evidence in Criminal Case No. 1194 are as follows:

The evidence of the prosecution consisted of the testimonies of the witnesses and the Medical
Certificate. Witness Joey Lugatiman, 22 years old, resident of Dawis, Tandag, Surigao del Sur
testified that he personally knew all the accused for quite a long time. On May 21, 1984 with ten
companions he went to a place called Maticdom, Tandag, Surigao del Sur. After staying at
Maticdum for five hours he went home on board on a cargo truck. On the way near the Tandag
Airport they were stopped by all the accused. They, including himself, were ordered by the accused
Pedro Ravelo to come down from the truck. Then he was brought to the nearby house of Pedro
Ravelo and there he was asked if he was Joey Lugatiman and if he knows Reynaldo Gaurano.

His companions were ordered to proceed to Tandag while he was loaded on a service pick up driven
by the accused Pedro Ravelo. He was brought by all the accused to the Headquarters of the
Airborne Company at Mabua, Tandag, Surigao del Sur. In the Headquarters of the Airborne, he
was interrogated if he was an NPA. After hearing his denial of being an NPA he was boxed, kicked
and pistol whipped by the accused Pedro Ravelo and his co-accused. He was manhandled by the
accused with the use of the firearms for almost an hour. Later he was brought back again to
Awasian Airport to the house of Pedro Ravell (should be Ravelo) then to the house of Bonifacio
Padilla. But before proceeding to the house of Bonifacio Padilla, he saw his friend Reynaldo
Gaurano one meter away, already weak with bruises on the face, hands, tied at the back and
gagged around the mouth. Reynaldo Gaurano could not talk and he was moving in the act to free
himself and with a bleeding mouth. Upon arriving in the house of Bonifacio Padilla he was chained
and hogtied near the open window by the companions of Pedro Ravelo. Not long after, through the
window, he saw Reynaldo Gaurano hanging up the mango tree and a big fire was set on the
ground. He heard the groaning and moaning of Reynaldo Gaurano. He saw Pedro Ravelo and Jerry
Ravelo setting fire on the right and left side of Reynaldo Gaurano with the use of dried coconut
leaves. He saw all the accused surrounding and watching the hanging and burning of Reynaldo
Gaurano. It was Pedro Ravelo who cut the right ear and who also slashed the neck of Reynaldo
Gaurano. He could not shout because he was afraid. While lying down after he saw the horrible
incident he fell asleep. At around 5:00 o'clock in the morning of May 22, 1984 he awoke and saw
Bonifacio Padilla bringing nylon line with which he was tied to a piece of wood; while Nicolas
Gaudalupe gagged him, and he was blind folded by Hermie Pahit. While the three were about to
leave him behind, he heard them saying that they will kill him at the Awasian bridge at 9:00 o'clock
in the evening of May 22, 1984. When he was left alone in that house he successfully freed himself.
He jumped out of the window and escaped via the nipa palm grove. As consequences of the
manhandling of the accused, he suffered several bruises on the breast, at the back and his mouth.
He was physically examined by a doctor in the Provincial Hospital on that day, Exhibit "A", "A-1"
and "A-2" which is Exhibit "1" and "2", "1-A", and "1-B" for the defense. On cross examination, he
testified that he escaped at around 10:00 o'clock in the morning from the house of Bonifacio
Padilla, and that he knew all the accused to be members of the Civilian Home Defense Force
(CHDF). He testified that the house of Pedro Ravelo and the house of Bonifacio Padilla is around
one hundred (100) meters away from each other.

Witness Dr. Petronila Montero testified that she is a resident physician of the Provincial Hospital,
and on May 22, 1984 she examined Joey Lugatiman and she issued a medical certificate, Exhibit
"A". All her findings were placed down in Exhibit "A". Upon being cross-examined, she testified that
the hematomas, small abrasions will not cause death. When she examined Joey Lugatiman, she
found that he was weak and haggard caused by the injuries mentioned in Exhibit "A".

Witness Emilio Espinoza, 68 years old, farmer, resident of Awasian, Tandag testified that while he
was tendering his carabao near the house of Bonifacio Padilla he was surprised to see Joey
Lugatiman, wearing blue t-shirt and a jogging pants jumped out of the window of the house of
Bonifacio Padilla, twelve meters away from him. He saw Joey Lugatiman ran towards the nipa palm
then ran towards the airport. He knew Joey Lugatiman because during the barrio fiesta Joey used
to stay in his house at Awasian.

Witness Bernardo Frias, 21 years old, farmer and resident of Awasian, testified that on May 22,
1984 he was in Maticdom together with Joey Lugatiman, Miguel, Gregorio Urbiztondo, Leonildo
Naragas, Jesus Espinoza, Mauricio Estoya, the driver and a helper from 5:00 o'clock in the
afternoon and started to go home at around 11:00 o'clock p.m. for Tandag. On the way, near the
airport, he, together with his companions on a logging truck was stopped by the accused Pedro
Ravelo, Jerry Ravelo, Josen Ravelo, Hermie Pahit, Bonifacio Padilla, Romeo Aspirin and Nicolas
Guadalupe. They were ordered to come down and were made to identify each other. He saw
Bonifacio Padilla dragged Joey Lugatiman to the house of Pedro Ravelo. It was Pedro Ravelo who
later brought Joey Lugatiman to the pick-up. They were ordered to board on the truck except Joey
Lugatiman who loaded in the pick-up driven by Pedro Ravelo. Then, the accused Bonifacio Padilla
ordered the group to proceed to Tandag while Joey Lugatiman was left behind. He reported to the
police authorities that his companion Joey Lugatiman was being held under arrest at Awasian and
that he knows all the accused before this incident. (Rollo, pp. 21-24)

The accused-appellants were not able to or did not present evidence on their behalf, nor were they themselves able
to confront the prosecution witnesses who testified against them except through a counsel de oficio appointed by
the trial judge to represent them namely, Atty. Pretextato Montenegro and Atty. Florito Cuartero, in place of their
defense counsel, Atty. Eliseo Cruz.

The continued absence of Atty. Cruz, a Quezon City-based lawyer who perennially made requests for
postponements by telegrams stating his inability to appear for health reasons, led to the refusal by the accused-
appellants to be present at the trial. The accused-appellants alleged that Atty. Cruz left an instruction that they
will not submit themselves to trial without him.

The accused-appellants now maintain that they did not "waive" their right to be present during the trial because
their refusal was not done by their own free will but only in accordance with their lawyer's instructions.

The Court notes that Atty. Cruz resorted to several other delaying tactics aside from sending telegraphic notes
requesting for postponements. He filed a petition for change of place of detention and venue for trial before this
Court, which denied it; a first petition for habeas corpus on the ground that they should be tried by a military
tribunal, which petition was denied; and a motion for new trial on the ground of lack of due process due to
improper waiver of presence at the trial. This motion for new trial was granted to give the accused-appellants a last
chance to be heard and be present. Still, the defense counsel failed to appear and so did the appellants.

In their second petition for habeas corpus which we now treat as an appeal, Atty. Cruz failed to file the required
brief. The Court then appointed a new counsel de oficio for the accused-appellants.

Accused-appellants raised the following alleged errors of the trial court:

THE LOWER COURT'S FINDING THAT ACCUSED-APPELLANTS ARE GUILTY OF FRUSTRATED


MURDER HAS NO BASIS IN FACT AND IN LAW.

II

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT ACCUSED-APPELLANTS WAIVED THEIR


RIGHTS TO BE PRESENT DURING THE TRIALS AND TO PRESENT EVIDENCE TO PROVE THEIR
INNOCENCE (Brief for Appellants, pp. 10-11; Rollo, p. 144)

It is contended that there can be no frustrated murder committed in Criminal Case No. 1194 absent any proof of
intent to kill, which is an essential element of the offense of frustrated murder.

Appellants aver that the trial court erroneously based its conclusion on the fact that when Lugatiman was tied and
gagged, the latter heard one of the accused-appellants utter that they would kill him at Awasianbridge.

The trial court made the following inference which we find to be erroneous:

To this Court the real intention to kill Joey Lugatiman was made manifest at 5:00 in the morning of
May 22, 1984 when the accused Bonifacio Padilla together with Hermie Pahit and Nicolas
Guadalupe tied his hands to the wall with a nylon line and gagged him; and when the accused said
they will kill him (Joey Lugatiman) at 9:00 o'clock p.m. at Awasian bridge. These final and parting
words uttered to Joey Lugatiman eloquently expressed intent to kill. Killing, however, was not
consummated because Joey Lugatiman was able to escape at around 10:00 o'clock in the morning
of May 22, 1984. (Rollo, p. 25)

The facts and evidence on record do not show anything from which intent to kill could be deduced to warrant a
conviction for frustrated murder. A mere statement by the accused stating that Lugatiman would be killed is not
sufficient proof of intent to kill to convict a person of frustrated murder.

In a crime of murder or an attempt or frustration thereof, the offender must have the intent or the actual design to
kill (US v. Burns, 41 Phil. 418 [1921]) which must be manifested by external acts. For there to be frustrated
murder, the offender must perform all the acts of execution that would produce the felony as a consequence, but
the felony is not thereby produced by reason of causes independent of the will of the perpetrator. A verbal
expression that Lugatiman would be killed sixteen (16) hours after such statement was made is not sufficient to
show an actual design to perpetrate the act. Intent must be shown not only by a statement by the aggressor of the
purpose to kill, but also by the execution of all acts and the use of means necessary to deliver a fatal blow while
the victim is not placed in a position to defend himself. However, after the performance of the last act necessary, or
after the subjective phase of the criminal act was passed, the crime is not produced by reason of forces outside of
the will of the aggressor. (People v. Borinaga, 55 Phil., 433 [1930]).

Tying the victim's left leg with a chain on a 2" by 3" piece of wood and leaving him inside the house of accused-
appellant, Bonifacio Padilla are not acts that would result in death. These were done only to restrain his liberty of
movement for the period of time the accused-appellants were busy hanging and burning the body of Reynaldo
Gaurano some thirty (30) meters away from where Lugatiman was left. Also, tying Lugatiman's hands behind his
back and his whole body to the wall, and blindfolding him were for the purpose of restraining his liberty until the
evening of May 22, 1984 came.

Accused-appellants also maintain that the injuries sustained by Lugatiman from the manhandling at the
Headquarters of the Airborne Company were not fatal as stated by the prosecution's expert witness, Dr. Petronila
Montero; hence, there can be no frustrated murder. This is supported by the records (Exhibit "A-2", Records of
Criminal Case No. 1194, p. 21; TSN, June 4, 1985, pp. 24-26) Lugatiman did not lose consciousness as a result of
the blows he sustained (TSN, May 31, 1985, p. 49, Record, p. 115)

It is worthy to note that the trial court, in concluding the existence of frustrated murder, did not even use as its
basis, the manhandling of Lugatiman. The trial court in fact concedes that the real purpose of the manhandling or
torture was to have Lugatiman admit and confess his being a member of the New People's Army (NPA) and the
activities of the NPA's. It was the statement made by the accused-appellant NicolasGuadalupe that Lugatiman
would later be killed, that was the basis of the court for inferring the commission of frustrated murder. According
to the trial court, murder was not committed because of the timely escape. Escape from the aggressors cannot
establish frustrated murder without first showing that the aggressors intended to kill and that they really attacked
the victim.

Under the circumstances, accused-appellants could not even be convicted of an attempt to commit murder. There
was no commencement of the criminal act by over acts which have a direct connection with the crime of murder
intended to be committed. As stated earlier the manhandling, express statement of purpose, and the restraint of
liberty were not such as to put the victim in danger of an imminent death. The small abrasions and hematomas of
the victim resulting from the torture by the accused were not mortal. After the victim was restrained of his liberty
immediately before Gaurano was killed, he was able to watch how Gaurano was burned hanging upside down from
a mango tree near the Awasian bridge. Due to his fatigue and extreme weakness, he was even able to lie down and
sleep after looking at the horrible incident. (TSN, May 31, 1985, pp. 22-23)

During the long period of time Lugatiman was informed that "he would be killed" and was left behind (5:00 in the
morning) until he was able to escape at 10:00 in the morning, it was not certain whether or not appellants would
really kill him as they did to Gaurano. Anything could have happened in between. There was no distinct evidence
to prove that the accused appellants were really decided on killing him at the time specified.

The records show that Lugatiman himself was not sure that the accused-appellants would pursue it.

The uncertainty can be seen from Lugatiman's testimony on cross-examination, thus:

xxx xxx xxx

Q. Why did you say a while ago that "I will be the next one to be hung and to be
killed by Ravelo and his group"?

A. I was just afraid that I will be the next.

Q. Now, when you saw these persons burning the body of Reynaldo, did you hear
also what the people around Reynaldo were talking of?

A. What I heard was their laughing and the moaning.

Q. And you heard their laughing?

A. Yes.

Q. Why did you know that they were laughing?

A. Because I heard it.

Q. Their appearance you can see?

A. Their appearance is clear because there is a big light.

Q. And your name was never mentioned that you will be the next to be hung?
A. I did not hear them saying.

Q. There were also no other people like you who were apprehended or being
detained by Pedro Ravelo and his group?

A. I did not see.

Q. You only saw Reynaldo Gaurano, including yourself detained by Ravelo and his
group on May 21, in the early morning rather, on May 22, 1984 dawn?

A. Yes. (TSN, May 31, 1985, pp. 54-55)

After a review of the allegations of the information in Criminal Case No. 1194 and the evidence received and
admitted by the court a quo, the Court is of the view that accused-appellants are not guilty of frustrated murder
but only the crime of slight physical injuries. There is evidence to show that the several small abrasions on the
chest, right neck and right ankle of Lugatiman as well as the hematoma at his back was due to the hitting by a
rough, hard object like a butt of a gun. The prosecution witness, Dr. Montero testified that the injuries were
inflicted by some other persons aside from the victim, and needed medical treatment of four (4) to five (5) days to
avoid infection. (TSN, June 4, 1985, pp. 21-26)

Accused-appellants aver that there was no deliberate waiver on their part of their right to be present at the
scheduled hearing dates because they "did not appear to know the import of their decision not to appear in the
trials." According to them, the judge should have explained to them the meaning and the consequences of their
decision not to appear.

The issue of due process had been fully considered by this Court when we acted on the habeas corpus petition. In
our May 8, 1988 resolution, we outlined in detail the reasons for our finding of dilatory tactics on the part of the
petitioners and their counsel and why the lower court correctly proceeded with trial.

After stating the various incidents characterizing the initial proceedings and the trial of the case, we stated:

xxx xxx xxx

The petitioners are members of the Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF) who have been convicted
of murder and frustrated murder committed under particularly brutal circumstances. A notice of
appeal was filed thirty-nine (39) days from the promulgation of judgment and was clearly out of
time. A motion for new trial was also characterized by plainly dilatory tactics in its handling.

Were it not for the effectivity of the present Constitution, there is a likelihood that the petitioners
would have been sentenced to capital punishment. The near-capital nature of the crimes for which
the petitioners were convicted and the rather unusual circumstances surrounding the trial of the
two cases and the failure to appeal, however, call for a closer look at the judgments of conviction.
This can best be done by calling for all the records of the case including the transcripts of
stenographic notes. If, after the consideration of the cases as appealed cases, there appears to have
been a miscarriage of justice or a need for further evidence, the case can always be remanded for
further proceedings as instructed. Otherwise, the judgment will have to be affirmed or reversed on
the basis of all the present records. (Rollo, p. 73)

For purposes of this decision, we emphasize that in the morning of May 30, 1985, the date of the first day of the
trial proper, or after five (5) postponements, the accused-appellants came to court without their counsel of record,
Atty. Eliseo Cruz. Atty. Cruz allegedly sent a telegram through one Mrs. Delfina Cruz indicating that he met a
vehicular accident and requesting a resetting of the hearing date. The several instances in which the Court
received similar telegrams including one where he claimed a "very sick heart ailment" led the trial court to doubt
and disregard the last request of the defense. The court had earlier categorically stated that it wouldentertain no
further requests for postponement.

The court, in deciding to push through with the trial at 2:00 in the afternoon of May 30, 1988 and in appointing
two (2) counsels de oficio for the accused-appellants did not only consider the right of the accused to speedy trial
which should not be abused by the defense by willful delays, but more so, the rights of public justice. (Mercado v.
Santos, 66 Phil. 215 [1938]). Despite their new counsels who appeared to be doing their best, the accused-
appellants insisted on absenting themselves stating that they cannot and would not appear without Atty. Cruz and
allegedly for fear that they would be harassed by members of the New People's Army. At this point, the Court
informed them of (1) the importance of the appointment of competent counsels de oficio considering the gravity of
the offense and the difficulty of the questions that may arise during the trial; and (2) the fact that there is no legal
obstacle to proceeding with the reception of prosecution evidence in their absence.

Absence at the trial did not deprive the accused-appellants of cross-examination except the right to personally
confront the prosecution witnesses face to face. Notwithstanding their absence, they were represented by the
counsels de oficio who took turns in cross-examining each of the prosecution witnesses.
Accused-appellants also maintain that they did not actually refuse to present evidence on their behalf. They
argued that the counsels de oficio misapprehended a telegram of Atty. Cruz which stated that he (Atty. Cruz)
cannot attend the June 20 and 21, 1985 trial because he had a prior engagement in another court in Ilocos Sur on
those dates. They also contend that their failure to appear and present evidence was "simply because of their
misplaced trust and obedience to the instructions of their counsel, Atty. Eliseo Cruz, whose negligence and lack of
vigilance in the handling of the cases, despite the seriousness of the crimes charged, had caused injustice to the
accused-appellants." They ask this Court to take their case as an exception to the rule that a client shall suffer the
consequences of negligence or incompetence of his counsel.

The actual desire of the accused-appellants to testify and present other evidence is not manifest from a thorough
review of the records of the case. If it were true that they wanted to present evidence, they should have taken
advantage of the opportunity to be present, to be heard and to testify in open court with the assistance of their
appointed lawyers. As a matter of fact, they were able to convince the lower court to grant them a chance to have a
new trial. However, they still failed to make use of their last opportunity. They cannot now claim that they were
denied their right to be present and to present evidence. This Court upholds the lower court's position that the
accused-appellants were given more than generous time and opportunity to exercise their constitutional rights
which should not be overemphasized at the expense of public policy.

The circumstances of the case do not preclude the application of the rule that a client is bound by the acts of his
counsel who represents him. Nevertheless, at the time when the lower court appointed the de oficio counsels, the
court already had ample notice of the futility of waiting for Atty. Cruz to come and appear for the defense. From
the time the accused-appellants were represented by Atty. Montenegro and Atty. Cuartero, their decision not to
attend the trial nor to present evidence is clearly a product of their own free will.

WHEREFORE, the appealed judgments in Criminal Cases Nos. 1187 and 1194 are hereby, respectively, affirmed
and modified as to the crime proven. The accused-appellants PEDRO RAVELO, BONIFACIO "PATYONG" PADILLA,
ROMEO ASPIRIN, NICOLAS GUADALUPE and HERMIE PAHIT are hereby sentenced:

(1) To serve the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay the increased indemnity of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS
(P50,000.00) in Criminal Case No. 1187 solidarily; and

(2) To serve the penalty of arresto menor in Criminal Case No. 1194.

SO ORDERED.

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